MobileBlog

News and views on the Canadian telecom industry, and tips and tricks for saving on your cell phone bill.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bell and Telus Slide - LTE to the Rescue???

If you read my blog post from yesterday, you'll know I discussed Rogers' struggles as of late, and predicted that Bell and Telus would follow suit. So imagine my surprise (or lack thereof) when I saw an article about Bell's struggles in the Toronto Star this morning. I nearly choked on a spoonful of Raisin Bran when I saw the headline. Turns out, Bell has been failing to keep their profits up too, and has seen significant hits from their subsidization of smartphones (see previous November 4th post for more info on this issue). While surfing the Toronto Star website this morning to find out more, I stumbled upon this little gem: http://www.thestar.com/business/article/886394--telus-profits-sink-amid-debt-refinancing-revenues-rise.

Turns out Telus has joined the underachievement club, and has seen net income fall by 12% from a year ago. If you listen carefully enough, I'm pretty sure you can hear the collective fist-pumping excitement of those with a stake in Mobilicty, Wind, and Public Mobile.

So what are Canadian Telecom's "Big Three" to do about all this? Well for starters, the media has been buzzing with talks of a "faster, stronger wireless coming to Canada" (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/882200--faster-stronger-wireless-coming-to-canada). A new technology known as Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is said to be able to vastly improve the speeds and capabilities of wireless networks, and can approximately double connection speeds. Apparently it's being "moved towards" (which I suppose means testing, discussing, and infrastructure purchasing is occuring) by carriers around the world, including Bell, Rogers, and Telus. What's really interesting about this technology is that a) it will make wireless browsing/downloading/streaming as smooth as the internet you'd receive when at home (supposedly), and b) while the technology is viable at the moment, cellular devices are currently lagging behind! So while we may see a vast improvement in the quality and speed of internet stick connections, we may not be able to purchase BlackBerrys and iPhones with LTE capability anytime soon. But not to worry, as Samsung has an LTE capable phone in the works, Nokia is pushing LTE phones, and LTE iPhones and BlackBerry might not be too far behind. In the global telecom industry, history has shown that Canada lags slightly behind the States with regards to technology and hardware. Since US provider Verizon is launching six LTE phones at January's Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, which likely means Canadian providers won't be far behind.

This is certainly a bright-spot in an otherwise rough week for the "Big Three" in Canadian Telecom. It remains to be seen whether this technology can really make the splash that it's expected to, and whether it can help Rogers, Bell, and Telus once again get a leg-up on their smaller, more agile competition. Regardless, Canadians (myself included) have a voracious appetite for cellular data, so it' would seem that this is a strategic move in the right direction. And who knows, perhaps it will help smartphones become a more lucrative profit-generating product category for the "Big Three". Only time will tell....

Cya later!

-Griffin Thomson

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