Cell Canada

Canadian Cellular Industry News, Insight, & Noise

Globalive – New Canadian Wireless Carriers Series

Posted by Gary on February 3, 2009

Here at Cell Canada, we’ve had a great deal of interest in the new Canadian Cellular Carriers.  Questions about their service launch dates, technology, pricing, and monthly service plans.  Starting with Globalive, we are starting a series where we will summarize and infer what we can to help answer these questions and more.

Globalive

Owner: Orascom out of Egypt has majority ownership but Globalive has controlling interest to meet Canadian foreign ownership regulations.  What does this mean?  It’s Orascom’s money and they are in charge.  Good for competition in Canada.  Orascom has about 80 million cellular customers worldwide with properties in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.  That’s more than all of the existing Canadian cellular carriers (Bell, Telus, and Rogers) combined.  They will not be muscled out or outspent by the incumbent Canadian carriers.

Management: Globalive is still building it’s management team.  At the date of this article, active recruiting is underway for several ‘C’ level roles.  The key CEO role is in place however.  Ken Campbell is a Canadian with a great deal of experience with start up wireless carriers in Eastern Europe.

Marketing and Brand:  Expect a no-frills consumer brand.  The betting line to date is on ‘Yak Mobile’.  Noticeably, Yak has shut down its www.yakmobile.com web site.  In advance of a launch later in the year?

Technology: Globalive will be launching the current revision of the GSM technology train.  Expect UMTS and HSPA technology similar to what Rogers has currently deployed.

Plans: Expect innovative, for Canada, low end plans: $10/month, $15/month, etc. and potentially text only plans.  The recent moves by Koodo, Solo, and Fido to offer $15 plans with no system access fees are a clear indication of the incumbent Canadian cellular carriers re-positioning their brands to protect their soft flanks – where they expect the new carriers to enter.

Phones:  Of course we don’t know specifics of phones that will arrive a year from now but what we can infer is that given their strong buying power (Orascom’s 80 million customers) and targeting of the low end of the market, Globalive – or Yak Mobile – will probably offer basic feature phones and low end smartphones.  Expect some unique phones, perhaps more Nokia and other low end feature phones that we haven’t seen in the market to any great degree under the Bell, Rogers, and Telus umbrellas.  Also expect that with their buying power, they will get some interesting phones in advance of the incumbent Canadian carriers.

When:  Globalive is already building network in the major Canadian cities where it has licenses.  There is a lot of work to get a mobile carrier business started and offering services.  Network is one aspect but OSS systems, distribution channel, etc. all take time to put into place.  Expect a launch in late 4th quater 2009 to 1st quarter 2010.

Hope this answers some of your questions.  Feel free to add anything that you may have learned about Globalive’s plans in the Comments section.

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The Best Free Apple iPhone Apps

Posted by Gary on October 23, 2008

Here at Cell Canada, we are big fans of ‘cheap’ and ‘free’ in all their forms – whether it be cheap cell long distance with Alligato Mobile, or cheap gadget toys at DealExtreme, or the focus of this article, free Apple iPhone Apps.  We have a well earned reputation for being tight with our pennies.

Thus we thought it might be interesting to share our spendthrift-favorite iPhone Applications both to spread our cheapness but also to see if any of you may have a line on great free iPhone Apps that we may have missed.

Here’s our list::

Bloomberg:Classic thorough Bloomberg market and stock information in a smooth and easy to use App for all you market junkies out there.  (Hint, it’s probably down).

Blue Skies Lite: A great helicopter game.  Control the helicopter by using the accelerometer.  Shoot planes, tanks, avoid mines, etc.  Great graphics, great sound, and lots of fun.

Facebook: What can you say.  It’s Facebook on the iPhone.  It’s been widely presumed that one of the motivations for the new Facebook design was to align the online site with the mobile site.

Fring: A multi-IM client that supports Gtalk, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, ICQ, etc.   But even more importantly, a VoIP over WiFi client that supports Skype and a multitude of SIP service providers such as Gizmo, NewWorldDial, etc.  First generation and a bit rough still but it works well enough now and has lots of promise going forward.

Funky Punch Lite: A simple arcade type fighter game.  A simple and fun way to try out your combo moves.

Fuzzle: An addictive puzzle game.  Has all the hallmarks – easy to play, some mental complexity, good graphics and sounds. 

i.TV: A TV directory done right.  Episode guides, ratings, preview videos for movies, etc.

Last.FM: We love this application.  A must have for any music fan.  Stream music based on genres, tags, ‘similar to’, and friends favorites.  Add in artist bios and concert schedules for some reading while you are enjoying the music.

Locly:  Locly finds restaurants, pubs, gas stations, cafe’s, events, dogs, and almost anything else in your local vicinity.  The interface is a bit rough and ugly at this point but the data is great.  Ever been in a new location and wondered where the nearest ATM was? or gas station?  Locly knows. 

Lux Touch:  Can you say the game of Risk without copyright issues.  Well this is it.  Graphics are lame but the gameplay is addictive.  Who doesn’t want to rule the world.

Midomi: A music discovery tool, like Shazam but with more cool features.  Put Midomi up to a song you hear on the radio and after 10 seconds of listening and about 30 seconds of hitting its online database, it will come back with the song.  Amazingly accurate.  The accuracy is even scarier when you try the ‘hum a song’ option.  Yes, it will predict a song based on your humming.

Say Who Dialer- A voice dialer for the iPhone.  Works and works well right out of the download.  No training required.  Just hold down the big button on the centre of the screen and say the name of the person you want to dial and it will pull their data out of your address book, or speak their phone number, and it will dial.

Tap Tap Revenge- One of the original great free games on the iPhone App Store.  Tap out the bubbles to the beat.  Nothing better than gaming to a beat.

Zenbe Lists – A simple and powerful to-do list application for all of you list junkies out there.  Ends off our list.

So did we miss any of your favourite free iPhone applications?  Drop us a line in the comments – we’d like to hear about them.

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iPhone, gPhone or Windows Mobile?

Posted by robertwright on October 22, 2008

In late September, the initial Google gPhone was introduced: HTC Dream. Google’s strike on the phone market is significantly different than Apple’s, and could, if we measure success by domination of the Internet, be a viable threat to the tumultuous existence of the current mobile industry and cause Apple shareholders some concern.  Is this the wireless battle of this decade?   Since the market has been shifting from PCs to smart phones, this new encounter may well redefine the overall market influence of the various players, with Microsoft mobile being the most at risk, and Google with the most to gain (because it is just entering), and Apple defying all expert opinions by capturing the heart and soul of its customer’s.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Blackberry Storm vs Apple iPhone

Posted by Gary on October 8, 2008

Blackberry Storm details are coming out fast and furious.  From early reviews, it seems to meet and beat most expectations.  It may certainly be the best corporate device ever built though I’m sure some will argue otherwise.  The keyboard, our big question in previous posts, is getting good reviews and RIM seems to have done a good job of using the capacitive aspects for actions and a hard button interface for selection.  Of course it has the strengths of RIM’s industry leading mail/contact/calendar applications with BES synch.  It appears to be somewhat weaker than the iPhone on the consumer applications side – video presentation, browser, and music.  Especially when it comes to the slickness, design, and hardware graphics acceleration of the consumer application interfaces.  The application store / deck / market has had little discussion so far though it appears from the rumours that carrier’s will control the application they allow in the market.  Payment/account registration etc. details are still unknown.

For us, we are very impressed and can’t wait to get out hands on it.  We don’t know if it will displace our affection for the iPhone – it seems to be missing the lifestyle aspects but it’s our ideal corporate phone. 

Competition is good.  Finally, we can kill the abuse of the term: ‘iPhone killer’.  We now have two very good and different phones to choose from – it’s no longer a one horse market.

Technologizer created a good early comparison table that we’ve copied for you below:

 

The phones
BlackBerry Storm 9530
Apple iPhone 3G
Platform
BlackBerry (Java based)
Apple’s proprietary OS X
Availability
Soon
Now, although supply is occasionally spotty
U.S. carrier
Verizon
AT&T
Price
TBD
$199 for 8GB model or $299 for 16GB model with two-year contract
Data plan
TBD
$30 a month for unlimited data; $5 a month extra for 200 text messages
Locked?
Presumably, to Verizon
Yup, to AT&T
Colors
Just black, as far as I know
Black (8GB and 16GB); white (16GB only)
Size and weight
4.4” by 24” by 0.55”; 5.46 oz.
4.3″ by 2.4″by 0.33″; 4.05 oz.
Screen size and resolution
3.25″; 480 by 360
3.5″; 480 by 320
Input
Multi-touch haptic-feedback touchscreen with QWERTY and SureType keyboards
Multi-touch touchscreen with on-screen keyboard
Buttons
Volume; lock; left and right Convenience; mute/play; send, menu, end, and escape
Home; volume; vibrate
Accelerometer
Yes
Yes
Headphone jack
Standard 3.5mm
Standard 3.5mm
Bluetooth
Stereo
Monaural
Voice dialing
Not sure
No
Voice recording
Not that I know of
No
MMS
Yes
No
Camera
3.2 megapixels; flash; digital zoom; video capable
2 megapixels; no flash; no digital zoom; no video
Voice
Quad-band GSM and CDMA
Quad-band GSM
Data
Both HSPA and EVDO
HSDPA
Use as tethered modem?
It has the ability technically, at least; not sure if Verizon will permit
Violates AT&T’s terms of service; tethering plan is rumored
Data plan
TBD
$30 a month for unlimited data; $5 a month extra for 200 text messages
Wi-Fi and GPS
Nope on Wi-Fi; yep on GPS
Got ‘em both
Battery
5.5 hours talk time; 360 hours standby; removable
5 hours talk time; 300 hours standby; not removable
Web browser
BlackBerry Browser
WebKit-based Safari
Web searching
Presumably in some form, but I don’t know the details
Yes, via Google or Yahoo
E-Mail
IMAP, POP, BlackBerry Enterprise Server
MobileMe, GMail, Yahoo Mail, AOL; other services supported through IMAP
Calendar
Yes, with to-do list
Yes, but no to-do list
Microsoft Exchange support
Yes–hey, it even supports Notes and GroupWise
Yes
Instant messaging
AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo, ICQ
Only through third-party apps
Office Apps
Documents to Go Office-compatible suite, with editing
Microsoft Office-compatible viewers, but no editing
Maps
Yes (BlackBerry Maps)
Yes
Turn-by-turn navigation
Not standard that I know of; apparently available through third-party apps
No, but may be coming from third party developer(s)
Music
Supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, WMA ProPlus formats
iPod player and iTunes Store; supports MP3, AAC (with or without Fairplay), WAV, Apple Lossless, AIFF, VBR formats
Video
Yes; supports H.264, MPEG4, and WMV formats
iPod player, YouTube; movies through iTunes Store; supports H.264 and MPEG4 formats
Photos
Yes
Yes
Wireless synching
Yes, through BlackBerry Internet Server and BlackBerry Enterprise Server
Yes, through MobileMe
Desktop synching
Yes, through BlackBerry Media Sync
Yes, through iTunes
Application store
RIM is supposedly readying an application store; apps available from third-party stores
Yes, the iTunes App Store

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Blackberry Storm to Launch Exclusively on Telus in Canada

Posted by Gary on October 8, 2008

Blackberry Storm

Blackberry Storm

Telus has their Blackberry Storm teaser page up.  It’s identified as an ‘exclusive’ and thus implies that we will not be seeing the Storm on Rogers or Bell at launch.  Quite the sweep by Telus given the expected corporate and consumer interest in the device.  However we expect that the use of the term ‘exclusive’ may apply to the EVDO/HSPA model versus the pure HSPA model (‘exclusive’ on Rogers).

Here’s the page: http://promo.telusmobility.com/storm/

Here’s the Vodafone page with more graphics and a specification sheet: http://blackberry.vodafone.co.uk/storm/

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Another Blackberry Storm / Thunder Video

Posted by Gary on October 7, 2008

An official Vodafone Blackberry Storm / Thunder video.  Slick presentation of the functionality.  Looks good though we’d like to see the UI in a bit more detail.  Soon enough…

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Great, Easy, & Cheap Cell Phone Long Distance

Posted by Gary on October 2, 2008

We just returned from a couple of trips across Canada and were reminded again of how much we like the Alligato cellular long distance service.  During travel to Toronto, Montreal, Regina, Calgary, and Edmonton, we had to use our cell phone extensively to call long distance back to Vancouver as well as to the other travel cities.  With Alligato, we were able to make these calls easily and confidently, knowing that we were not getting ripped off by the cellular carriers’ LD rates or having to bother with picking up calling cards (not to mention having to watch out for calling card scams).

We had signed up to Alligato on their pay as you go plan back in the summer.  We liked the fact that it was easy to use and there were no setup or any monthly fees.  Their rates are similar to home phone long distance rates – much much lower than cellular carrier long distance rates.  After a month, we switched over to their Unlimited North America calling plan.  It covers unlimited long distance to Canada and the USA for $9.95/month.  It’s an amazing price – we used to pay that much for just one call using Bell’s cellular LD.  We’ve been using it quite a bit since then.  The quality is great and the price is right.  Our bill has been $11.15 per month after GST and PST and we call as much long distance as we want.

This trip just reinforced the value for us.  We probably did over a hundred minutes of long distance per day from our cell phone.  All without worrying about how much it was costing us.  We’d highly recommend that you look at the service if you do any long distance calling from your cell phone.

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Blackberry Thunder / Storm on Video!

Posted by Gary on September 11, 2008

The first video of the upcoming Blackberry Thunder (Storm on Verizon)!

Captured by Brew Ninja – infamous for early access to upcoming phones.

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Blackberry Thunder / Storm Release Date and Other Rumours

Posted by Gary on September 9, 2008

Verizon Blackberry Storm Box from Engadget

Verizon Blackberry Storm Box from Engadget

The Blogsphere is brimming with speculation on the upcoming Blackberry Thunder. 

 

A quick recent rumour mill summary:

  • It will be called the Blackberry Storm 9530 on Verizon
  • It will be called the Blackberry Thunder on Rogers and Vodafone
  • It will be exclusive to Rogers in Canada
  • Telus will also carry it in Canada. (Yes, conflicting rumours)
  • It is ready for prime time and expected out on Verizon in October
  • The user interface and OS is still buggy and it will be delayed into November
  • It will include Wi-Fi
  • It will not include Wi-Fi
  • The touch keyboard: haptic feedback, full Qwerty in landscape, and Suretype in portrait
  • 8 GB microSD included.  Raising hopes of strong multimedia capabilities

Of the rumours to date on the Storm/Thunder, a few things stand out for us. 

1. World phone.  CDMA/EVDO and UMTS/HSPA in one piece of hardware spells bulk.  Good for CDMA players and their business customers but a handicap when compared to pure UMTS/HSPA devices.

2. No Wi-Fi.  If this is true, then it will be a significant liability relative to other new smartphones such as the iPhone.  The majority of the average user’s time is spent in home and work environments that can support much faster speeds via Wi-Fi.  Wi-Fi for speed and EVDO/HSPA for coverage appears to be a reasonable approach taken by other smartphone vendors.

3. Battery life.  Heavy users, especially business users, need their device to work all the time.  Time is money etc.  It will take more battery than a traditional Blackberry to power the big screen.  More battery implies more bulk.

4. Keyboard, keyboard, keyboard.  Blackberry’s are highly regarded, rightfully so, for having fantastic keyboards.  They keyboard will make or break this Blackberry.  No doubt, great Exchange integration, rock solid reliability, and enterprise grade security have all contributed to the RIM’s success and should be expected on the Storm / Thunder but without a novel writing worthy keyboard, this Blackberry only will fall into line with the other ‘average’ business smartphones.

We are longtime Blackberry fans and are hopeful and excited about the launch of this device.  If the keyboard is close to as good as a traditional Blackberry hard keyboard, then we will forgive the bulk.  Though maybe not the lack of Wi-Fi.

UPDATEThe Blackberry Thunder on Video

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Rogers Listens – Updates Data Plans for the iPhone, Bold, & N95

Posted by Gary on August 29, 2008

For those eager for an iPhone or Bold, Rogers has rolled out an update on it’s data plans that deserves some attention.  The plans are reasonably globally competitive and compared to the original Rogers data plans pre-consumer backlash, they are wins for Canadian consumers. 

Even more importantly, Rogers has taken smart steps to derisk the data purchase.  Rogers will now not charge for the first three months on a data plan to help consumers see reporting on their usage levels and then select the optimum plan.  As well, they have placed a $100 cap on excess usage.  Providing a limit on risk or unknown exposure to charges that has left consumers burned and wary in the past.  Both very smart moves addressing two major data plan barriers to entry for consumer.

We are still fans of the $30 6GB plan.  Sign up now.  It will disappear at the end of September and we will not see anything similar until late 2009/early 2010 when the new entrants begin to enter the market.

Price Original 2008 Pre-Iphone Market Response Restructured
$15 2MB 2MB N/A 2MB
$25 4MB 4MB N/A 500MB
$30 N/A 300MB 6GB 1GB
$50 N/A 500MB N/A 2GB
$60 30 MB 1GB N/A 3GB
$80 500MB 3GB N/A 8GB
$100 1GB 6GB N/A N/A

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