CRTC Cat Fight

Funny thing about a report commissioned by Manitoba Telecom Services about whether Canada's telecom act needs to be overhauled. The Winnpeg-based carrier puts out a 113-page report – prepared by Lemay Yates Associates – that says no big review is needed because the Telecom Act of 1993 is working well.
The interesting part is the conclusions, which outlines al number of changes that MTS would liike to see. This includes an easing foreign ownership rules and accelerating the CRTC's decision-making process – many of the same things that Bell, which has been lobbying for a policy/framework overhaul for the past year – wants to see.
My take is MTS wants the good parts of the status quo – i.e. rules that keep incumbent carriers such as Bell and Telus in check by making them to file tariff to sell different products – while getting the CRTC to change many of the things they don't like. It's a classic case of eating your cake and having it too.

PalmOne's CEO

Todd Bradley's decision to leave PalmOne is perhaps more evidence the Treo will never be a serious threat to the Blackberry. As much as the VC executives in Silicon Valley gush over the Treo, the Blackberry has become the tool of choice for people who want e-mail on the road.
You have to wonder if there's troubling brewing at PalmOne given Bradley was beaten to the exit door by Angel Mendez, who signed on with Cisco recently. Palm was a great, innovative device but it has been supplanted by better technology. The number of Blackberry users doubled last year to two million, and it appears the device is experiencing hockey-stick like growth. The Treo is a fine device but it has lost its mojo so it will be up to another company to develop the Blackberry-killer.

Google-FireFox Marriage?

According to, the possibility of a Google browser powered by FireFox could become reality now that Mozilla Foundation president Mitchell Baker has a full-time Google employee. There is plenty of “I will continue to work on FireFox, blah, blah, blah” but you don't hire someone's brain without having some kind of mandate. A Google browser – or perhaps a Google-branded browser – makes complete sense as the company moves to become more of an application platform than just a search engine. Check out my posting below for more on this thesis.
By the way, Mitchell's move to the corporate world reminds me of Linus Torvalds' decision to join TransMeta while still tending to Linux. Torvalds lasted six years before leaving in 2003. I have a feeling Mitchell will have more intellectual freedom within the Google ThinkTank.


A day after Google denied it was getting into Internet telephony, there are reports the search engine giant is going to launch a new test service that will let couch potatos search for the content of television programs. For now, Google Video will only let you find still shots and text of TV shows, but the long-term strategy is apparently aimed at coming up with a service to let people replay programs on their computers.
While some people dismissed Google's apparent VOIP plans as misguided speculation, there is no doubt Google has lots of smart people trying to develop the next “killer app” for the Internet. Whether it's VOIP, TV, e-mail, social networking or photo editing, Google needs something new and exciting to jump-start growth.
This is not to suggest Google's AdSense business is losing momentum but its rate of growth is slowly as the business gets larger. To sustain revenue and profit growth, Google needs something else to excite analysts and investors. Don't be surprised if Google rolls out a variety of new services to see what sticks.
Another idea is Google will use some of its IPO proceeds to make a major acquisition – and we're not talking about something minor such as buying Blogger or Picasa. Does Google need to do something that bold? It all depends on the opportunity but it would be a mistake to under-estimate Google's need for a new growth engine.

Nortel's Asian Adventure

A few months back, Nortel CEO Bill Owens spent some time Asia – an intriguing move given the company's financial woes. Clearly, he was hammering home the final details of a few deals as Nortel will enter into joint venture with state-owned China Putian Corp. and South Korea's LG Electronics.
The China Putian deal will give Nortel a front row seat to China's 3G party – whenever the government decides it will start. The agreement with LG appears to be focused on South Korea, which has one of the most developed high-speed Internet and wireless markets in the world. It's an interesting marriage because LG has been looking to sell or find a partner for its telecom equipment unit, which has been struggling apparently with declining sales and low margins. Nortel reportedly paid US$400 million to US$600-million for the privledge of joining forces with LG.
It is easy to get the feeling there is a big telecom dance happening in Asia, which is one of the few high-growth markets left in the world now that European and North American carriers have adopted a “let them come and we will build it” approach to investments in new infrastructure and services.
You get the feeling that no one (the multi-national equipment makers) want to be left without a (Asian) partner when the music finally stops. Nortel's willingness to cogh up some of its much-needed cash to hook up with LG reflects the reality iif Nortel hadn't done so, a rival such as Motorola would have happily made nice with LG.

Videotron's VOIP pricing strategy

Just when you thought all the cablecos had decided to go down the premium-pricing path, Videotron has thrown the market a change-up. The company became the first cableco in Canada to roll out an IP-based telephony service that starts at $15.95 a month. What's different about the service is its a la carte menu where customers can add individual features for a monthly fee. The first service costs $4 a month while additional services are $2 a month. There's also a $4.95 a month plan for LD within Quebec.
Give Videotron credit for trying a different approach, which appears in some ways to be a hybrid between the premium offerings of Comcast, and the discount deals at Vonage, Primus, AT&T, Yak, etc. My take is that Videotron management realizes price will be a key factor if it wants to win market share against Bell Canada, as well as its Internet telephony rivals.
As for Videotron customers, if you already use the company's high-speed Internet and cable-TV services, it's a no-brainer to sign up for the telephony service. The fact Videotron offers free installation that lets you use your in-house wiring, and you get to keep your phone number makes its service difficult to resist. Bell Canada has much to worry about.