AWS-3 Spectrum Auction Kicks Off – Official Results Friday

by Istvan Fekete on March 4, 2015

Canada’s mobile landscape and its competitiveness has been the topic of fierce debate during the past couple years, fuelled by Ottawa’s plan to foster wireless competition across the country. This year is about to bring (at least some kind of) balance: The AWS-3 spectrum auction just kicked off yesterday.

In line with its plans, Ottawa announced that it will set aside 60% of the available spectrum to smaller carriers. However, of the ten qualified bidders, the industry’s eyes are on just two: Wind Mobile and Mobilicity.

You may recall that Mobilicity has been under creditor protection since September 2013, and that the carrier is losing money as we speak. It managed to secure $63 million in financing at the last minute to allow its participation in the auction. The problem, apparently, is that the financially crippled carrier will need to compete against Wind Mobile, as they are both eligible to bid for licences in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.

This is an interesting turn of events, since the two were in talks about a possible merger just before the auction kicked off. The talks broke down because of the auction rules.
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Apple Grabs Top Spot in Global Smartphone Market as Samsung’s Fall Continues

by Matt Klassen on March 4, 2015

The numbers are in…and they don’t look good for Samsung. As many predicted Apple has officially regained the coveted top spot in global smartphone sales, market analysis firm Gartner reported yesterday, thanks to its strong Q4 iPhone 6 sales. In the fourth fiscal quarter of 2014 Apple accounted for 20.4 percent of the global market, up from 17.8 percent the company held during the same quarter in 2013.

But the news here is not of Apple’s modest 3 percent gain, but instead Samsung’s precipitous fall, as the Korean tech giant has seen its market share plummet from 29.5 percent in 2013 to a disappointing 19.9 in Q4 2014, a staggering decline likely due in equal parts to increased competition in burgeoning markets like China and Asia, and the fact that Apple’s larger screen iPhone 6 Plus gives smartphone buyers another quality large screen option besides Android.

Truthfully though, these results were never really in question, Samsung was going to lose its grip on top spot; it was really a matter of when, not if. Earlier this year researcher Strategy Analytics had predicted that fourth quarter results would see a veritable tie between these two behemoths, with both hovering around 20 percent of the market share, but noted the same trends in momentum, Apple on the way up and Samsung on the way down.

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Samsung Shows Willingness to Change with Two New Smartphones

by Matt Klassen on March 3, 2015

The simple fact is that unlike Apple, Samsung does not have the luxury to rest on its laurels when it comes to smartphone upgrades. While for years we’ve seen Apple rake in the money through its ability to entice its rabid fan base with disappointing incremental improvements, the moment Samsung tried a similar tack the Korean company began to slide, losing significant ground and weakening its grip on the world’s largest smartphone company.

To counter its diminishing market presence Samsung came out swinging this week at the annual Mobile World Congress, unveiling the new Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, which sports a slightly curved display. As a counterpoint to Apple’s “Bend-gate” controversy both phones are metal instead of plastic, plus they include wireless charging, advanced camera tech, and feature Samsung’s newly released mobile payment platform, Samsung Pay. Both the features and the altered form factor represent a major departure from previous iterations of the Galaxy franchise.

But will a Galaxy redesign be enough for Samsung to regain its swagger in the mobile market? There’s no question that the Galaxy S5 was a relative flop and Samsung, having taken the time to investigate the mistakes it made, has worked hard to correct its shortcomings with the S6, but whether the market is still interested in Samsung with up-and-comers like Xiaomi, HTC, and Lenovo gobbling up market share, well that remains to be seen.

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Mitel Expands 4G LTE Services with $560 Million Mavenir Acquisition

by Istvan Fekete on March 3, 2015

Canadian telecom services provider Mitel Networks announced on Monday, March 2, that it will acquire the US-based Mavenir Systems for $560 million, strengthening its position in the high-speed 4G LTE mobile market.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Mitel will commence an exchange offer, pursuant to which Mavenir stockholders will be entitled to elect to receive either all-cash or all-stock consideration for each share of Mavenir common stock, subject to proration, in either case with a value of $11.08 plus 0.675 of a Mitel common share, which is equivalent to $17.94, based on the closing price of a Mitel common share on February 27, 2015.

The merger is projected to expand Mitel’s total addressable market by approximately $14 billion by 2018, and puts the company in a perfect position to capitalize on increasing demand for 4G LTE services, which is growing at about 52% annually, the press release notes.

“Mitel is a leader in enterprise and cloud communications, markets in which mobility is becoming increasingly influential. With wireless adoption of IP and 4G LTE and demand for next gen mobile services ramping quickly, we see a compelling opportunity to capitalize on a major market transition to add a high-growth mobile business to Mitel,” said Rich McBee, President and CEO of Mitel. “We believe the combination of Mitel and Mavenir creates a powerful new value proposition for enterprises and mobile service providers, using a common IP technology layer as the foundation for convergence, growth and competitive differentiation.”
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Blackberry Seeks Out Cross-Platform Partnerships

by Matt Klassen on March 2, 2015

As the annual Mobile World Congress officially kicks off in Barcelona today the news out of Blackberry is distinctly less flashy than what one might expect at an event defined by cutting edge technology, but perhaps that’s to be expected from a company quickly moving away from the flashier hardware side of the mobile industry.

Under the leadership of CEO John Chen Blackberry has undergone a metamorphosis over the last few years, transitioning away from a company focused on producing competitive mobile hardware towards a software and data management firm; Chen realizing that his company’s greatest assets were not its phones, but what the phones were able to deliver in terms of functionality, interface, and, most of all, security.

To that end the news out of Blackberry this week had nothing to do with its square Passport smartphone or its retro Blackberry Classic throwback smartphone, but about the companies plans to further infiltrate other mobile operating systems. On Sunday the company announced the creation of “BlackBerry Enterprise Suite,” a collection of apps that will bring its Hub messaging portal, virtual keyboard, and security, among other things, aimed at bolstering the enterprise credibility of iOS, Android, and even Windows mobile platforms.

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Verizon and Mozilla Announce Partnership to Bring Firefox OS Phones to the US

by Istvan Fekete on March 2, 2015

Traditionally designed for first-time smartphone buyers, Firefox OS phones have been targeted at emerging markets. The original plan was to reach developed markets in 2014, but Firefox OS phones ultimately failed to reach, for example, the US. That’s about to change.

Mozilla and Verizon Wireless announced a partnership on March 1 that will bring the first Firefox OS phones to the US in 2016. Verizon is apparently the only US carrier that is part of the Mozilla announcement, but it isn’t the only carrier from developed markets: The deal includes major operators from across the globe, such as Japan’s KDI, South Korea’s LG U+, and Spain’s Telefónica.

Developed markets mean different phones: Devices running Firefox OS hitting markets such as the US will come in a variety of form factors and price points, from flip phones and sliders to more sophisticated smart devices with applications, Web browsing capability, and other features.
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The Internet is Now a Public Utility: FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules in 3-2 Vote

by Matt KlassenFebruary 27, 2015

After years of legal wrangling and bureaucratic bungling the fight for Net Neutrality hit an important milestone this week, the Internet will finally be regulated as a public utility. In a close but never really disputed 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission approved the utility-style rules to govern the Web, adopting the Net Neutrality standards [...]

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Protecting Your Business with Cyber-Insurance

by Jeff WienerFebruary 27, 2015

The world of cyber-crime is one of investment versus reward, a calculation whether the data the hackers are seeking is worth the time and risk it will take to access it. The unfortunate reality is that no network is absolutely safe, meaning all the network security, IT protocols, firewalls, security hardware and software in the [...]

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Lenovo Caught Preloading Controversial Spyware ‘Superfish’ onto PCs

by Matt KlassenFebruary 26, 2015

Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo came under fire this week for preloading controversial spyware onto laptops sold late in 2014. While preloading certain software is a common practice in both the PC and mobile worlds, what makes Lenovo’s actions so repugnant is that it loaded the same software cyber-criminals use to crack encrypted data on the [...]

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Public Interest Groups Urge FCC to Set Aside 40 MHz in 600 MHz Auction for Smaller Carriers

by Istvan FeketeFebruary 26, 2015

The FCC should follow Industry Canada’s example and set aside at least 40 MHz in the 600 MHz spectrum auction, because last year’s AWS-3 auction resulted in AT&T and Verizon securing the premium spectrum and left the rest of the industry with “only a smattering of paired blocks and 15 MHz of low-value, unpaired, uplink spectrum”, a coalition [...]

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