the curious tale of the girl and the telco

One Number to Rule the World

Transient

Earlier this week it was announced that the Greater Toronto Area would be receiving two new area code overlays this spring, 437 and 375. Mark Goldberg has an interesting discussion on how many numbers that is, and what it really means. The explosion of wireless devices is being blamed for the increased numbering requirements. 

Up until recently, our household had 8 phone numbers associated with it. We regularly have between 16 and 20 IP addresses active on our internal home network. We could easily increase that number by activating some 3G services on various tablets, but we're cutting back ;-D

It seems silly that two people generate that much number waste. In a perfect telecom world, I'd have 1 domain name, and maybe three or four IPV6 addresses, and all of the devices would have a find me follow me feature. I'd connect to the internet and the world would be able to find me, and vice versa. No more phone numbers. Once DNS takes over the PSTN, life will become infinitely easier to manage, certainly from a translations and numbering perspective. Gone will be the day of end offices and toll switches. Hello wireless and wifi and broadband. It's already converging in carrier core backbone networks and international call routing at the carrier level. Now it's just a waiting game until IP makes it way to the great unwashed masses.

Unfortunately, until we push the boundaries of universal broadband or wireless coverage, we're going to have to deal with the copper last mile in Canada, and the use of old school phone numbers. Couple that with the fact that 1 in 6 households doesn't own a computer yet and it becomes dauting to think of a life without the old Public Switched Telephone Network.

It's encouraging that 95% of Canadian households with a computer are connected to the internet. Of that 95%, only 30% have high speed access - another disappointing statistic. Maybe in my lifetime we will be able to switch to a pure IP communications world, but I'm not optimistic. Until then, I suppose I'll just have to deal with my eight phone numbers :-\

pontificating on net neutrality options...

… i was able to have an outstanding conversation yesterday about net neutrality, with “one of the canadian biggies”… and i actually took the stance that net neutrality and the whole sordid debate was a little premature. That instead of arguing over it, and trying to force all bits to be the same, why not embrace the difference in the bits. Let’s go one step further, and let end users embrace their special bits, and give them portal power to change how the network should treat their bits.


The network provider who can harness the power of the dynamic classes of service, and present it to their customers in a way that is easy to manipulate and understand will be able to easily differentiate itself in the market. Not to mention the option of being able to get out of the commodity bandwidth business, if only briefly.

How thrilled would you be, if on monday you could prioritize your voice traffic, because you were working from home, and thursday you could prioritize your video traffic, because you were downloading movies for the weekend…. or if on saturday you wanted to prioritize music, so you could fill your iPod for a party that night?

Indeed - carriers and content providers alike could have “priority VPN” services… you could get iTunes Pro or MySpace Pro or NetFlicks Pro…

Back in the ’90s, when i worked for one of the first ISPs in Canada, i swore i’d never pay for internet access - why would i - dialup was all i ever needed, and i could always swing a dialup account somewhere…. silly me. I am thrilled to be paying for what is now an essential service. I have a feeling i’d be even more thrilled to pay for being able to differentiate my essential bits.

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Canadian Telecom Summit - Here I Come

After 10 years in the industry, this is finally my year to go to the Canadian Telecom Summit. To be fair, it’s only been in the past 6 years that I’ve been aware of it, and yet denied access, for various and sundry reasons. Primarily budget ;-)
But this year - the gates are open.  I’m going to be able to see people that I’ve only read about. Learn things I’ve only heard whisperings about. Andrea Messineo, from AT&T is going to be good. I’ve heard Pierre Blouin (MTS) speak a few times… passionately, I might add. It will be good to hear John A McDonald as well.

But I’m really looking forward to the up-and-comers: Virgin Mobile’s Andrew Black and John Maduri from Barrett Xplore. (I wish that the guy from Amp’d Mobile Canada was going to be there, but beggars cannot be choosers)  Word on the street is that Janet Yale, the EVP of Corporate Affairs for TELUS is a firecracker, and I can’t wait to see her take on the other Regulatory folks in an exclusive panel.

But this year - the world is my oyster. The Canadian Telecom Summit… followed closely by NXT Comm. It’s going to be a busy June :-)

GST Conferences :: Home Page for The 2007 Canadian Telecom Summit

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Someone Else is Making Millions in Vegas

And it’s not me… ;-)

But whilst in the land of sun and sin and whatnot, it was pretty obvious that there was money being made, and not only at the gambling tables.

Every 3rd person on the street was on a cell phone, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t locals.  I started imagining all the roaming charges that were getting racked up…… there are a boatload of cell phone providers in Vegas.
But only 2-3 real carriers, the rest are MVNOs….. all those roaming charges falling into 3 real buckets. Mmmmm. Not to mention juicy data transfer charges.

I can’t wait to see the roaming fees on the Wiz’s cell phone…

If you can’t win at the roulette tables, setting up a cell phone service in Vegas will make you money just as fast!


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The Loud and Angry Voices of Wireless Users in Canada

What started off as as whisper is now turning into a dull roar about the cost of Canadian cell phone service.  Mark Goldberg has been kicking the ball around for a while, but now there are a slew ot teammates to take a pass.
Ryan at BlogTO
Jay at Radiant Core
Jeremy Latham
Sam Lu at GoSammy

These guys all seem to be relating to an article written by Thomas Purves which compares Canadian wireless services to that of a 3rd world country. That may be a pretty bold statement, intended to entice exactly the kind of reaction that is being received.  He’s got some great stats about the cost of using wireless data transfer. His call to arms just may entice the quiet, Canadian public to ruffle feathers with their wireless providers. I would imagine that this sort of stir is going to cause some stress to folks who measure mobile ARPU (average revenue per user)… i can hear the sound of Mobile Golden Egg cracking….

What’s next with wireless?  Well, if the stir over net neutrality is any indication……and data transfer is soon going to “clog up” the wireless networks, carriers will have to enforce “Quality of Service” levels, and applications will fall off the network.  You thought your cell phone bill was high last year?  Just wait till next year.  The huge marketing push over the past few years to increase data use is going to blow up, when carriers realize people are sending silly UTUBE videos to each other’s cell phones.

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Taking Voicemail for Granted

It’s an easy thing to overlook, the complexity of voicemail. That wee little application that means so very much to us all. When it’s a missing piece, it’s hard to find a suitable replacement on a short schedule.  With all the new voice services upstarts, you would think it’s also an easy application to outsource, and you would be wrong.  No one really sells voice mail as a stand alone service, certainly not as a residential service.  There are a couple of companies doing SOHO Voicemail outsourcing in Canada - GotVMail.com is advertised on the radio, and is geared to small offices that don’t have PBXs, but want to look and feel bigger. Unite is also geared for office requirements, but I haven’t been able to find a wholesale voice mail service provider for residential use. (I see a niche market!!!)Now I’ve got to build it ;-) Special thanks to Alec and Jon for answering my queries over an  Easter long weekend, you guys rock.


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The Rogers VISION

I wish I had some indepth witty details, a good scoop, or even gossip. But Mark tells it all, and there isn’t all that much to tell yet, unless you want to read the press release. William Shatner helped launch Rogers’ New VISION…. Live Video on cell phones, (aka mobile video calling services) and yes, that includes video calls from your cell.  The Man of Silver has more details, and even a snappy photo of Capt’n Kirk in a demo. Check the Rogers’ site for their launch info…

I mentioned it to someone a few minutes ago, and their first question: how the heck are you going to hold the phone to your ear, and not get a close up of your eardrums?

It’s not an unreasonable question… :-)



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Collateral Damages at Allstream

The past few weeks has seem some pretty significant folks leave the Allstream ranks in search of greener pastures.  It’s like spring cleaning for the career, perhaps. It’s  a little bit odd, considering the good feedback I’m hearing  externally about  how Allstream is  performing with customers. They’ve had  some great wins in the marketplace, and good announcements in the press. I had thought the ship was turning. Perhaps externally, the skies are blue, but internally the outlook remains stormy?  Whatever the case, at this rate of change, the re-greening of Allstream is progressing rapidly.


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Wireless Services for the Young Generation - Amp'd Canada

Imagine: games, entertainment, videos, audios, and interactive applications. In the palm of your hand. Created especially for YOUR generation, with YOUR interests and what is current in mind. It’s a niche market, but sometimes it’s the niches that end up being the sweetest spots.

Amp’d Mobile launched last week.  It’s the first MVNO [Mobile Virtual Network Operator] that TELUS has escorted into the marketplace. Their schtick is all about handheld, wireless entertainment and content.  Custom content, for that matter, specific to the Good, Canadian Kids. They’ve let TELUS do the heavy EVDO network bits, so they can concentrate on getting the right content to the kids.

Chris Houston, Amp’d Canada’s president has some really good insights into the differences between Amp’d and TELUS’ Spark offerings. Amp’d has a much narrower, specific focus. Spark appeals to a much broader audience.  (I’m on the Spark side of the fence, and not just because I’m 35 30-ish. Well, ok, maybe that has something to do with it.

Their packages aren’t cheap, and the content isn’t free, but the quality and variety looks impressive.  Their target audience is between 19 and 30, with gobs of disposable income to splurge on digital joy.

I only feel the slightest bit aged….


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Corporate Responsibility In the Age of Public Participation

How does one define politically correct corporations?  How does a corporation become loved by the public? How does a company move from being “one of the bad guys” to “revered by all”? What companies are considered “the good guys”? Sun? Saturn? Dove? The Body Shoppe? Tim Horton’s? Is it all about perception and mis-perception?
I work with very cool, very smart, very dedicated people. I work on teams where the member participation ranges from Vancouver to Rimouski… Those Rimouski guys are ridiculously smart!! :-) Teammates that have families and interests and compassion. At the executive level, the passion and intensity is even more evident. The laughter, sharing, support and recognition of individual and team contributions is contagious. I’m in a small microcosm of “good guys”. Does that traslate into an over-arching goodness?


Still, as I work internally with groups to determine corporate blogging strategies, it makes me wonder if there is much more at stake than a marketing answer to a web 2.0 initiative. A corporte blog strategy has got to take into account the mandate to improve external relationships, even with folks who are not customers, and folks who may never become customers. It’s a fine line between the perception that the guys on the left have, and the rest of the community.

Companies have got to expect that if one person has a “bad guy ” perception, there’s got to be more. The only way to change that perception is to provide content and context that allows folks to get a better look inside companies. To challenge corporate PR, if you will… To challenge the whole public conversation.  I know - it sounds a litte nutty for a big company to think of such innovation.

The irony? In this day and age, companies can’t help but have this conversation on their radar. It needs to be a conversation that includes highlighting the little people, working like berserk, making things and caring about customers and the community. The Million Dollar Question, how does an organization change perceptions?  Can it be a fast road or a slippery slope?

Can one take such a naive position as this and make it acceptable? Can naivety and corporate optimism be joined to create something better? 

 


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Let Your Numbers Be Free!!

It’s here. Wireless number portability. I don’t feel different, and my phone still looks the same. Nonetheless it’s the dawning of a new era in Canadian Wireless communications.  Aside from a whirlwind of activity in the papers this past week, it’s been pretty quiet up to now on the significance of March 14th 2007 as to the impacts for Canadian consumers. It hasn’t been obvious that freedom was going to arrive at12:01 am.

Bell refused comment on the impact of number portability,Rogers said it will be “business as usual” while Telus called the change a “positive” opportunity.


I camped outside a Bell Mobility store at christmas, handing out WNP leaflets to unsuspecting folks, suggesting that they should postpone that new cellphone purchase for a few more months…. no, wait, just kidding. I considered the implications and then headed off in search of a Booser Juice;-) Unless you were really paying attention in the past 6 months,chances are that if your cell phone was ready to be replaced, or your service was ready to be renewed, you went ahead and recontracted for 2to 3 years. Sorry about that. Catherine McLean,from the Globe and Mail, has a great series of questions and answers on WNP.  Questions sent in from the pubic indicate a VERY wide gap in understanding cell phone service. Mark Goldberg mentions that most folks aren’t fully aware of the all the changes and potential upside/downside to number portability.  He had a great idea tho - move your cell phone to your VoIP provider, and get funky with the follow me features…. great idea Mark!!!

I expect the next few months are going to be quite lively.

globeandmail.com: Number portability

Tomorrow,cellphone users in parts of the country will be able to transfer their current phone numbers from one provider to another.



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Aberta, Illegal Gambling and Data Centres?

I’ve been following the developments of Alexander Internet Technologies, and their recent press release of launching the construction of a new data centre in Alberta. Why? Because data centre space is a hot topic right now, not to mention a hot commodity in Canada.  There used to be a time when you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting an empty data centre; alas, those days are long gone, and the fight for data centre space could turn ugly at any moment.

And it’s with this market fluxuation that I’ve been keeping an eye on Alexander Internet Technologies.  A girl never knows when she’s going to need a few extra thousand square feet of raised floor.

Apparently, Alexander Internet Tech is creating a new data centre space in hopes of luring off shore gambling websites to Alberta. Hmmm, interesting business model, considering that the only organizations who can legally run ANY form of gambling are ones registered or licenced by the government, or OWNED by the government.

But their casino-licensing scheme has a successful and legally questionable model in Quebec.

That province’s Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is one of the world’slargest hosts for online gambling sites. It has operated the KahnawakeGaming Commission since 1996.Loto-Quebec and Quebec’s attorney general have in the past said thatonline gambling based in Kahnawake is illegal. But charges have neverbeen laid.


I am certainly not going to suggest that native Canadians aren’t governed by the same laws that the rest of Canada is governed by. I wouldn’t even imply that they think they are legally free to move outside the laws, and the canadian government is spineless enough to let it continue?

Nah, that would be just nutty.

Regardless, if you need a few thousand feet of data centre space in Alberta, you know where you can get it ;-)
Alta. gaming authority probing native band’s online gambling scheme

“Internet gaming, unless it’s conducted by the province or licensed by the (AGLC), is illegal.”Preparing to accommodate western Canada’s first online gambling operations, Alexander is building a 2,300-square-metre data centre on its territory, which will host the gambling websites’ computer servers.



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The Crux of Net Neutrality...

In Canada, there is growing interest and concern in the different directions that carriers and content providers are exploring; relative to Net Neutrality.

There is a pro-net-neutrality site that is petitioning the Canadian Government to seriously consider the implications of allowing internet services to run unchecked by the carriers. They support a neutral network architecture, but interestingly enough, they support Quality of Service (QoS), and the measuring of bits and bites (getting what you pay for and paying for what you get), which is outstanding, they are simply against the ugly underbelly of QoS, which is prioritizing of traffic based on protocol, source and content.

That being said, it’s exactly that discriminatory part of QoS that the carriers have their eye on.  Being able to promote specific content, specific protocols and specific sources, and making that traffic easier to access than a competitor’s has an alluring appeal to some network providers.

I want to go where I want on the internet, and regardless of where I go: Amazon or Ebay or iTunes or Joes Underground Goth Recipes, I want to go there unfettered. I don’t want to know that if I’m an iTunes addict I’m going to get charged more than if I’m a Puretracks junkie, if i’m a Bell Canada Customer, or vice versa if I’m a TELUS customer. If the carriers suggest that downloading a certain amount of bits and bytes per month is going to cost $X, that’s fine, but don’t tell me that downloading from iTunes is going to cost more or less than downloading from Puretracks.




Net Neutrality in Canada

While net neutrality supports metered billing based on counting bits and bytes, it does not support metered billing based on the content type. E-Mail, Video, VoIP and gaming services alike MUST be billed in a consistent, equal and non-discriminatory way.



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I'm a BC Virgin

British Columbia, you nerd.
But as of 1:35 PST, I will be in the land of milk and honey and people who are afraid of yoga.  I can’t hardly wait!  Vancouver, here I come.

The only painful part will be the 5 hours of flight time. You see, I’m a wiggler, a leg shifter, another leg shifter and a stretcher.  I’ve got snacks and bevvies and games and books and movies.

I’m still going to be shifty and bored before I even get out of Ontario.
Why Vancouver, you ask?
It’s the TELUS 2007 Sales Kickoff.
I figure that if I don’t end up on YouTube, the week will be considered a success.


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Holy Cats! OTTAWA takes the Leash off Telcos for Local Voice Services

Good Monday News!  The CRTC has been overruled by Ottawa yet again. Last month it was deregulation of Voice over IP services, now it’s the deregulation of local voice services, one of the last, locked down, traditional components of the major incumbents. Industry Misister Maxime Bernier has given BELL, TELUS and the rest of the incumbents the power to set their own prices, as long as there is sufficient competition in the local area.  Hmmm…. I don’t see a definition for “sufficient competition” yet. (Updated: Mark Goldberg’s got the definition, and it’s EASY!)  It used to be required that 25% of the local services had to be held by a competitive carrier in an area, before BELL could change their pricing. This could change the face of local voice services, which can only be good news for the Canadian consumer.  Mark Evans has more details.

Monday’s move throws out the old CRTC threshold policy and furtherreinforces Bernier’s reputation as a minister who favours free-marketsolutions to telecom issues.


Ottawa overrules CRTC; to accelerate deregulation of local phone service

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Rogers Beefs Up with Satellite Radio Offering!

Holy Quintuple Play Batman!

Rogers just received the nod from the CRTC that will allow them to offer subscriptions to XM or Sirius Satellite radio services over their cable network. It's going to become part of their standard offering, and customers can get their satellite radio subscription on their Rogers bill.

The service will be offered in Eastern Canada, but will focus on Ontario, NewBrunswick, Nerfoundland and Labrador.

The question is, is it easier to get a subscription right from XM or Sirius, or is it easier to get it from Rogers?  Will there be a price difference?  I'm curious to know how much of the satellire hardware that you buy for your car/home is subsidized by the service contract you have to buy as well.....  Perhaps Rogers is offering you a bit of a deal, as it's coming into your house using your existing digital settop box.....

It's a good play, I think


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Overruling the CRTC on VoIP Services

Ottawa to block CRTC on Internet phone regulation
SIMON TUCK
From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
OTTAWA — The Harper government will announce Wednesday its intention to rewrite the CRTC’s key ruling on Internet-based telephone services, a highly unusual move that could mark a big step toward a more open and consumer-friendly sector.Industry Minister Maxime Bernier will say in a speech in Toronto that the Conservative government will again block the CRTC’s repeated efforts to regulate phone services that run over the Internet.

globeandmail.com: Ottawa to block CRTC on Internet phone regulation

 

 

Holy Cats! What are the implications of the Harper government overruling the CRTC? Likely it’s a good thing, changing the rules of how digital voice services are treated, but the implications of the government getting involved in CRTC policy making are wide reaching. First VoIP, then the world? This first forray into the CRTC domain is positive, but what if the conservatives what to delve into something and change it for the worse? Does the CRTC have any recourse?

 

Mark, you probably know more of the answers - what do you think?

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Making a Whitelabel Wholesale VoIP Solution

How would you make this beast? it changes shape hourly. Yesterday it was consumer focused, with enhahnced communications features, and no requirement for the last mile, as the service provider would piggyback off existing internet services. Today it’s facilities based (meaning I have to come up with the last mile), and it’s got a decidedly business focus, with a hosted IP PBX component, DIDs and LD. Plus it’s got to be dead easy to replicate, and has to be able to service hundreds of wholesale customers, and THEIR customers. It’s got to be turn-key and positive revenue generating. I like the looks of Fonality, but I’m not sure how easy it is to implement as a wholesale offering. Alec Saunders has a great folder full of Fonality info that I’m going through now.

The market is clammoring for something easy. Something plug and play that doesn’t take 9 months to roll out. Something to stem the loss of subscribers that are jumping to free, and/or suspicious quality internet only plays.

Is anyone in Canada doing this? Ideally, I’d like to create this solution from canadian-made technology. Hints would be appreciated - suggestions adored.

 

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Ted Rogers Says No To Allstream...for now

Quashing a suggestion that he might bid for MTS Allstream (TSX:MBT), he noted that investment analysts tend to favour acquisitions over large increases in capital spending but “Allstream would cost a huge amount of money, and for a fraction of that - but still a substantial number in terms of capital expenditures - we will go in the business with the newest technologies.”

Rogers Communications triples Q3 net to $154M; stock to split, dividend up

 

Hmmm….. It’s like no one wants to Allstream to the Prom. She’s standing there looking all cutesy, but no takers.

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Voice 2.0 Explained

First coined by blogger and telecom executive Alec Saunders, ‘Voice 2.0′ is a term that refers to the consequences of voice becoming a simple data stream and application, that will integrate seamlessly with Web based business and consumer applications. This convergence of telephony communication and the Web will lead to fundamental changes in the way communication services are provided and a dramatic shift in the industry value chain.

TelecomVistas.com

 


This article should become mandatory reading for all new entrants and employees at telecom “solution provider” organizations. The dramatic mindshift needed to pull these giant ships out of their present path is going to be impressive. That being said, I’ve heard that it only takes 5% of the organization to create enough buzz, that it makes it easier for 25% of the organization to actually pull the levers of change. Someday I will be able to stop talking about overseas minute volume discounts as if they were a good thing.

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