Interview with Dave Dobbin, President of DAVE Wireless

by Jeff Wiener on December 22, 2009

dave dobbinI had a few minutes to chat with Dave Dobbin, President of DAVE Wireless on Monday afternoon about their go forward plans on entering the cellular market. The interview was a result of a comment I posted in a blog post on Friday as follows::

I haven’t been that kind to DAVE Wireless. I’m bewildered though. I write fairly frequently about the Canadian wireless market, and have discussed DAVE Wireless on numerous occasions. I’ve sent them emails requesting media interviews and information. Their name gets posted to Twitter, Indenti, on a frequent basis. And they haven’t defended their market position (or quite frankly replied to my requests for an interview). I know they must be busy but I hope they do a better job once launched.

Shortly after posting this I received a call from their communications department apologizing. They offered to set-up an interview with Dave Dobbin, and the following conversation ensued. I should add though, after reflecting on the conversation, that Dave has a solid grasp of the marketplace and what it will take to be successful in the market. It’s way beyond price. Dave said as much. We’re moving into an IP centric marketplace where voice is another application layered on top of data. I think he gets it !

I am going to break the conversation into a couple of posts and will publish the balance of the conversation tomorrow. We spent the first 5 minutes chatting and I didn’t include that part. The beginning of the conversation is a bit choppy, but the end of today’s post gets more interesting, and tomorrow’s should prove more revealing as Dave discusses his views on IP, TDM, voice, circuit switched …

Jeff: “You guys haven’t announced formal launch plans as yet. Your competitor Wind has already launched. What are you guys up to ?”

Dave: “There are so many T’s to be crossed and I’s to be dotted and it’s all got to be done perfectly the first time. You don’t get any room for messing it up, so we’re trying to make sure everything is done properly.”

Jeff: “Certainly an interesting time to get into the market”

Dave: “You know it’s a great market, I think it’s a competitive market, but it’s also the least penetrated market on the face of the earth which says it’s the biggest opportunity in the world so it depends on how you look at things I suppose. I’ll tell you, when I got into this, I was at the beginning of my career I was in mobile and then I went and spent 10 years in landline, running fiber optics – well you know my Toronto Hydro Telecom stuff. And I’ll tell you, the difference between the landline business and the wireless business really from a technology perspective and implementation perspective, they are completely two different worlds.”

Jeff: “Well especially because you were in a very cash rich organization with much deeper pockets and room to play, and it wasn’t nearly as risky as the play you are about to embark on now”

Dave: “Well hey you know what, everybody was under the impression that at Toronto Hydro Telecom that we had this big wallet, that’s not actually true because of the way the regulatory environment worked, or still works – it was a completely separate business and God’s truth, I swear I cross my heart and hope to die, poke a needle in my eye that over the term that I was at Toronto Hydro Telecom, Toronto Hydro invested zero dollars in that business. Everything we did, was done by ourselves. Everything. “

Jeff: “You built it?”

Dave: “Yeah, it was run completely separately.”

Jeff: “The competitive nature of what you’re doing now, is clearly much different from the competitive nature of what you did at Toronto Hydro Telecom, isn’t it?”

Dave: “Well I don’t know, what do you mean?”

Jeff: “The landscape on entry, and the wire line business is a little different from the wireless business?”

Dave: “Well I don’t know, I had six different competitors at any given time. I was competing against Telus, Allstream, Bell, Beamfield, and Blink, and we had competitors all over the place. You know, it’s just competition”

Jeff: “In light of that we’re in a moderately oligopolistic almost monopolistic market concentrated by Bell, Telus and Rogers.”

Dave: “Moderately? I would call it robust!”

Jeff: “I guess so. Now with Wind Mobile coming into the market, and Public Mobile to follow, the competition is obviously heating up. How are you guys going to differentiate yourself from the rest of the marketplace?”

Dave: “We’ve said all along, that we’re going to offer the greatest value in the marketplace, we don’t intend on being the low price competitor in the marketplace. Never in my career have I differentiated on price, and I don’t intend to start now. Price will not be the differentiator but the value will. So we’ll provide the customer with more value than they’re getting anywhere else. That’s our business plan, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Jeff: “And so that’s different from what Wind Mobile is doing for example in entering the market?”

Dave: “Yeah, and I mean when I look at it, I actually feel pretty good about our business plan. Wind didn’t change anything that we were planning on doing”

Jeff: “Interesting”

Dave: “I’m not going to tell you what our rate plans are”

Jeff: “Well I guess having listened to what you said, to what extent is your rate plan actually going to make a difference? Wind Mobile has a $15, $35, and $45 rate plan.”

Dave: “Yeah, we’re not going to have a $15 plan, it’s just not something we will be doing. I don’t think its somewhere we want to play”

Jeff: “So how do you differentiate yourself? Do you see the consumer as differentiating purely based on price, or are there other factors at play that you are going to be really strong in?”

Dave: “Yeah, there are other factors at play that we plan to be really strong in”

Jeff: “Anything that you can share?”

Dave: “We’re not talking about how we’re coming to the market, or what we’re coming to the market with, yet. We’re looking at launching in a number of months, so we don’t want to let the cat out of the bag that far in advance and anything that I tell anybody is just going to end up on someone’s desk at Telus to figure out how to competitively crush us. So I think the less we say about what we’re going to offer in the marketplace, the better”

Jeff: “Right, although when you release those plans they’ll figure it out pretty quickly on how to crush you anyway, or they’ll make an attempt to. Whether or not they’ll be successful is a whole other story on it’s own”

Dave: “I make the analogy, when Public Mobile started talking about how they’re going to start with a $40 dollar unlimited talk and text in their little coverage area, and I would say to everybody ‘I don’t understand the rationale behind doing that’ that would have been like Winston Churchill phoning the Germans and saying ‘okay we’re coming next Wednesday and we’ll be there at 9:14 AM so just be ready, and what we’re going to do is storm the beaches at Normandy.’ It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to do that.”

Jeff: “There’s something to be said about keeping your competitive positioning quiet and attacking the market in the most aggressive way possible which is obviously the tactic you are going to use.”

Dave: “Yeah!”

To read part 2 of this post click here …

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{ 2 trackbacks }

Dave Wireless and Dave Dobbin. Interview Part 2 —
December 23, 2009 at 6:29 am
Anthony Lacavera and Wind Mobile. Interview Part 2 —
August 11, 2012 at 8:12 am

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Max December 22, 2009 at 10:00 am

The big difference between landline and wireless is the process in which the company can deploy the network. Obtaining and permitting rooftop and tower sites is a daunting task on its own and now compounded by being on the heals of the new Belus network and Globalive.

Ernie December 22, 2009 at 2:39 pm

This is quite the scoop, can’t wait to read more. This interview was long overdue, great post!

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