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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Notes from the Field March 19, 2012

Notes from the Field March 19, 2012

Seems like everyone is trying to get into the TV business these days. Apple is working hard at their new offering (Siri on the big screen?).  Intel Corp. is trying to get their chips into the set-top boxes and deliver their own service to the consumer. Google is pushing hard to also offer a TV offering using Android. 

A new entrant is Cisco. They were already  in the space with the acquisition of Scientific Atlanta as my Rogers Cable TV box boots up with the Cisco Logo but their purchase of NDS (based in London) is to provide software for service providers to deliver content to any device  or the 4 screens -  tablet, Computer, smartphone, DOCSIS or an actual TV.

TV Spectrum Action 700 MHz
Now that the TV stations delivering over the air content have moved or have gone digital the spectrum is up for grabs. This 700 MHz spectrum is valuable as it penetrates buildings better and offers better coverage but also that it’s a new band for the telecom players to utilize as we move towards 4G and LTE.

The Canadian government has set the auction for next year and has made some new rules. The rules will NOT lower your cellphone bill anytime soon if not years from now. The new rules will allow foreign ownership for companies with less than 10% market share. This will help WIND, Public Mobile and Mobilicity to get additional funding that will help expansion across Canada. The new rules also allow at least 4 companies access to frequency blocks in each of the 14 license areas.
These rules will help set a more competitive stage but the well funded Big Three will still take as much frequency spectrum as possible unless the Small 3 consolidate and become the 4th player.
If the government is trying to increase competition and help drive innovation then it may be failing because the Big 3 are already positioned to maintain control and keep cellphone bills as high as possible. (Land Line Long Distance at 5 cents a minute pales in comparison to charging 30 cents a minute on a cellphone). Bell and Telus build their networks together leaving Rogers out of the loop a bit and MTS works with Rogers to have their 3G network (they were still on CDMA a few years ago) working. I don’t see the Big 3 looking to play with the new entrants in any way.

Foreign Ownership Rules Relaxed – Who Wins?

The new wireless upstarts will have their lives extended if they can attract some foreign investment money to help grow across Canada and try to buy up some spectrum.
MTS Allstream is the clear winner on this ruling as it now has an opportunity to unload the troubled Allstream unit to foreign investors. That may then set the stage for MTS itself to be sold off to a foreign investor if Rogers or Telus doesn’t buy them first.  

But a Telus interest seems doubtful as when I was in Winnipeg I roamed on a Telus tower not the MTS towers I expected too. This was great for me as I didn’t have to pay any roaming charges but maybe not so great for MTS.
Allstream offers a world class national  fibre-optic MPLS network and is the ideal footprint for any foreign network provider  that needs additional global connectivity  to propel further growth.

Bell Media Radio and TV

George Cope has pulled off another strategic move as he works to transform the Telco business to a Wireless and now Multimedia delivery engine with the purchase of Astral Media.  With the completion of the CTV purchase last year, partnership with Rogers in the Maple Leaf Sports company, and now this purchase is setting the stage for Bell to be a content delivery and convergence engine company.

Mr. Cope is betting on a 4 screens strategy of TV, Smartphone, Tablets and Computers to deliver shareholder value. This acquisition also sets Bell up with a strong foothold into the French Canadian markets and the ability to own more content than its competitors. Bell picks up French channels, HBO Canada, Astra Media Outdoor billboard division,  a whack of radio stations across Canada.

On-Shore Call Centers

I am seeing a shift in the Contact Center space where those Canadian companies that shipped the call center jobs overseas are now starting to bring them back.
Overseas call centers have not offered the highest customer satisfaction ratings and with increases in agent wages and higher turnover rates (as much as 100% agent turn over)  have made the C Suite reconsider their game plans.
No fault to the overseas agents that work hard and try to offer a better call experience but the heavily compressed Tel co lines, poor audio quality make the call experience a difficult one.
This is great news for Canada as the jobs are starting to come back (while we still lose manufacturing jobs ).
American Express Canada, Primus, Fortis and Sears have all made efforts to bring the jobs back to Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Build Canadian, Buy Canadian and complain to Canadian Call center agents

1 comment:

  1. Pierre VillanueveMarch 20, 2012 at 6:22 AM

    I think the most important rationale for the aquisition is to increase the French content in their portfolio as they try to increase its share of the Quebec TV market. Of course this will spill over to consumers adding additional Bell products to their monthly bill. I had no idea that Astral aslso did outdoor billboards.


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