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Bell's VOIP Trials

Bell has been pretty quiet about its VOIP plans but it turns out ther is a trial going on in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Bell Digital Voice features unlimited calling in North America, lots of features such as voice-mail, call-forwarding and voice-mail on e-mail, as well as access to 10 phone numbers. Who knows what Belll will include when it eventually rolls out a service but one analyst called its trial “very Vonage-like”.
The big question is when Bell will make its move into the market. This will likely hinge on when the CRTC spells out how or/and if it will regulate VOIP – a decision that is expected fairly soon. If Bell does want to make a move soon, it would likely have to be in Western Canada where it is a competitive carrier and, as a result, free from the CRTC.

Bell's IP Momentum

Bell Canada's new and enthusiastic focus on IP-based services produced
another dividend today with a new deal with BMO Financial, which will
connect 1,100 branches across the country using a virtual private network.
“This agreement with BMO is a perfect example showing that our strategy is
not only working but the marketplace is responding,” said Isabelle
Courville, who heads up Bell's corporate division. “Bell Canada is now
executing on its vision, working closely with customers to achieve the
efficiencies and increased productivity anticipated with migration to IP.
Bell's excitement about the agreement is a no-brainer because it needs to
move quickly into the IP world if it wants to stay competitive and reduce
its costs, which have an essential part of BCE Inc.'s corporate makeover in
the past three years.

Who's Going to be Nortel's Next CEO?

You have to assume Peter Currie will be Nortel's CEO at some point. It seems like an odd move for him to go back to a job he's had before at a company still troubled by accounting, regulatory and police investigations. You can expect a flurry of speculation/media stories into who might become a candidate. Tyler Hamilton believes Nortel needs a CEO with “vision who knows the industry”. While I think Currie's promotion is a slam-dunk, it would make a lot of sense to have a strong CFO who can talk to Bay St. and Wall St. and a strong CEO who can to customers.

8X8's Q3 Results

8×8 – a.k.a. the other VOIP service provider – posted a loss of $5.7-million on revenue of $3-million in the third quarter, while the number of Packet8 customers rose to 40K from 26K in Q2. The company has a market cap of $132-million. It means each subscriber is worth $3,300. If the same valuation is applied to Vonage, it works out to $1.3-billion. Is 8×8 over-valued, or is Vonage really worth this much, or is the market's true value?

Nortel Talks

I guess my meanderings about whether Bill Owens will be supplanted as Nortel's CEO have struck a chord. I got an e-mail from the company with following comment: “Bill Owens has said many times that he is proud to be the CEO of Nortel and is excited about our future prospects and growth opportunities.” I still think Peter Currie has come back to the fold to become CEO one day, which doesn't entirely conflict with Nortel's comment.

SBC-AT&T Marriage?

Will SBC spend US$15-billion to buy AT&T? Now, that would be a mega-telecom deal. If the deal is consummated, it would combine AT&T's 30 million long-distance customers with SBC's 50 million local customers, and mark the end of AT&T's 120-year history.
SBC would not be buying AT&T for its LD business, which has been under competitive pressure for years. The real prize would be AT&T's extensive data network, which has been the focal point of CEO Dan Dorfman's plan to re-invent the company. The data network's potential let Dorfman justify AT&T's decision to leave the local [circuit-switch] telephony business. Instead, AT&T is jumping on the IP bandwagon by offering VOIP service to consumers and a variety of value-add services to corporate customers.
An SBC-AT&T marriage would be a blockbuster and a real test for the FCC's new chair, who will replace Michael Powell.