Rogers Deploys its 700 MHz Spectrum

by Istvan Fekete on April 18, 2014

Just a few months after acquiring it, Rogers, Canada’s No. 1 wireless player, has flipped the switch on its 700 MHz spectrum, the company announced yesterday. As a result, Rogers customers can now access the Internet and stream videos even when they are located deep inside buildings, basements, or elevators, thanks to the valuable airwaves the wireless player has acquired.

You may recall that Rogers outspent every participant going after premium spectrum in each region. The carrier’s single target was obvious: to get the highest quality spectrum in order to deliver the best user experience – according to a company press release following the spectrum auction results.

Also, the Rogers announcement points to several facts that demanded additional spectrum for carriers to grow: first of all, mobile video is exploding, with 700% growth over the past three years thanks to the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, as Ooyala’s Q4 2013 Global Video Index reveals. Secondly, three out of four Canadians have streamed a video on their smartphone or tablet, and 20% do it daily, according to Google data.
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Apple Joins Forces with Other Tech Companies and Carriers to Implement Anti-Theft Measures for Smartphones

by Istvan Fekete on April 17, 2014

To fight smartphone theft, several states and municipalities are considering various mandatory “kill-switch” laws for mobile devices. Now, they have the support of top manufacturers and carriers, as the wireless industry announced a voluntary commitment to include new anti-theft technology on smartphones as early as next year.

The joint effort was announced Tuesday, and it unites the five largest US wireless carriers alongside key players in the smartphone device and operating system markets, such as Apple, HTC, Motorola, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, Google, and Microsoft, reports Re/code.

According to the announcement, the companies’ part of the commitment states that devices going on sale after July 2015 will include the ability to remotely wipe data and be rendered inoperable, should the user choose to do so, in order to prevent the handset from being re-activated without the owner’s permission. Lost or stolen devices could later be restored if recovered, using measures facilitated by the carriers.
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Blackberry Admits Defeat, Renews Focus on Enterprise

by Matt Klassen on April 17, 2014

It was news so minor that it barely made a blip on the tech media radar, but as Wired writer Issie Lapowsky puts it, purchasing a minority stake health tech start-up NantHealth this week may be the first good idea that Blackberry has had in years.

Truly its hard to fathom the missteps, poor decisions, and even blind arrogance the once mighty Waterloo (can I even say that anymore?) tech giant has made over the last few years, having watched its mobile kingdom collapse around its ears as it stubbornly continued to enact its failed mobile strategy.

So why is purchasing a minority stake in a small health tech company a shrewd move for Blackberry? As Lapowsky explains, the investment “is a promising sign that BlackBerry is doubling down on niche markets — the one place where demand for its technology still exists.” Simply put, we might finally be witnessing a turning point for Blackberry: the long overdue realization that it can’t compete with Android or iOS that has prompted the company to focus on the one place it still has a chance to make an impact: enterprise.

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Montreal Subway Testing Underground Wireless Service: 14 Stations Scheduled for 2014

by Istvan Fekete on April 16, 2014

The Société de transport de Montreal (STM), Bell, Rogers, Telus, and Videotron announced last year that they had joined forces to bring a cellular service to the subway system, both 3G and 4G LTE. The initiative was announced last September, and as it turns out, the carriers have been busy deploying the (most advanced wireless) network that was estimated to cost about $50 million.

The project includes a cellular service both in stations and tunnels within seven years. To cite Francois Gratton of Telus, who is co-ordinating the project, the carriers have set the benchmark high: they are aiming to bring underground the same high-quality experience users are accustomed to above ground.

Fast forward six months, and according to the Journal de Montreal, the progress is well advanced, and the STM has tightened deadlines. There are a couple of important aspects, though;, for example, more than 900,000 people ride the STM on a daily basis, and the majority of them depend on their cellular coverage.
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Mozilla Attempts to Pick up the Pieces, Appoints Interim CEO

by Matt Klassen on April 16, 2014

Mozilla has named company CMO Chris Beard as interim CEO as it attempts to recover from the firestorm of controversy surrounding the short and messy tenure of former CEO Brendan Eich. The hope is, of course, that Mozilla clients will quickly forget about the short-lived Eich era at the company, mitigating the effects of Eich’s political stance on the company’s technological future.

Beard is a long-time employee of Mozilla, taking a number of key leadership roles in product development, innovation, and marketing, including overseeing the development of Firefox for Android and the Firefox mobile operating system. He brings to the table knowledge of the mobile market and a strong vision for how Mozilla’s own mobile strategy (not to mention that he has no known controversial political affiliations).

But if its Mozilla’s hope that the controversy surrounding Eich’s stance on gay marriage will quietly disappear it seems such thinking is misguided, both because critics of Eich and the firm itself are still clamouring for an apology following Eich’s appointment and subsequent resignation and because it really shouldn’t be an issue Mozilla is focusing on at all, given that all it will really take for the firm to recover is a strong mobile product. Suffice it to say, hounded by controversy, losing ground in the browser segment, and still unsure of how to enact its mobile strategy, questions are being asked if, and how, Mozilla can survive.

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Incumbents Acting as an Oligopoly, Lethbridge Professor Says

by Istvan Fekete on April 15, 2014

You may recall the recent $5 price hike from Telus, Rogers, and Bell: citing various reasons, the incumbents have raised the price of new contracts by $5, while existing contracts remain unchanged. By the way, they have the right to make such increases whenever they want to. The best word to describe this situation in Canada is oligopoly, according to a professor.

“It’s the power of what we call an oligopoly,” said Michael Madore, a professor in the Faculty of Management at the University of Lethbridge. “Rogers, Telus and Bell are acting as an oligopoly. It’s very difficult for a new party to come in and gain presence,” Madore said.

“It’s really based on supply and demand of markets. As long as Canadians are not going to push this with the government you’re going to continue to see the rates go up, I think,” he said.
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T-Mobile Challenges Industry to Abolish Overage Fees

by Matt KlassenApril 15, 2014

For its next act the self-proclaimed UnCarrier T-Mobile wants to once again shake up the wireless world, this time challenging the mobile industry to abolish overage fees. As eccentric T-Mobile CEO John Legere explains, America’s fourth largest wireless carrier is “capping off several days of major announcements by launching a broad social campaign to abolish [...]

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Investigating the Threat of the “Heartbleed” Bug

by Jeff WienerApril 15, 2014

The online world was staggered last week when security researchers discovered a critical vulnerability in foundational security technology in the Internet’s core infrastructure. While there has been no lack of press about this new bug, ghoulishly dubbed “Heartbleed,” in a world where bugs, exploits, vulnerabilities, and hacks seem to be part of our daily life [...]

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Amazon’s Forthcoming Smartphone Needs Attractive Price Point

by Matt KlassenApril 14, 2014

Rumours about Amazon’s impending entry in the smartphone market have been floating around for several years now, but even if such a phone comes with all the top end features there’s really only one way the ecommerce giant is going to find success in the cutthroat mobile sector, and that’s with price. As CNET writers [...]

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Amazon Said to Be Releasing Smartphone in June, and Shipping in September

by Istvan FeketeApril 14, 2014

Rumours about Amazon’s smartphone have previously appeared sporadically in the past, with tech blogs speculating as to whether the online retail giant will make the move or not. Fact is, smartphone adoption is currently above 60% in the US, so you may well ask if the online retail giant would be able to secure a [...]

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