Interview with Anthony Lacavera, Chairman Wind Mobile

by Jeff Wiener on January 18, 2010

I had the pleasure of chatting with Anthony Lacavera last Friday. Anthony is the Chairman of Wind Mobile, and has been the face of the Globalive brand garnering much media attention over the last few months. Globalive launched Wind Mobile in December, and also went through a grueling fall with the CRTC cloud of uncertainty hanging over their heads.

Anthony has accomplished an impressive list of successes, the most notable being the successful launch of Canada’s fourth national network. The fact that he’s under 40 makes the feat all that more impressive. He’s an inspiration to all those budding entrepreneurs and proof that hard work and diligence can pay off.

There aren’t that many entrepreneurs who have a list of successes so early on. Although I know of Anthony through a mutual friend who has explained his accomplishments I never took the time prior to this interview to check out his bio. It includes several companies, both for profit and charitable. Juggling multiple efforts simultaneously takes a certain multi-tasking brain and an understanding of the art of managing resources (cash …), and of course people. Achieving multiple successes involves skill, a conceptual understanding in the art of business, and of course some luck.

Some people confuse luck and hard work. How Globalive managed to pull “a rabbit out of its’ hat” and overturn the CRTC ruling in such short order involved obviously hard work, but clearly an element of luck.

The bigger challenge for someone like Anthony is feeding that entrepreneurial spirit. As he’s launching Wind he’s probably got his mind on the next big hit … I’m curious to see what it might be.

We spent the first 5 minutes chatting and I didn’t include that part of the interview. With respect to the style of writing up this interview, I included his EXACT answers with a slight grammatical edit. I believe this process gives the reader a much better understanding of the individual; it’s not an interpretation, it’s his answer.

Jeff: It’s been about a month now since you launched WIND Mobile and I’m curious, what’s been the biggest challenge since the launch that Wind has faced so far ?

Anthony: Well, Jeff, we are obviously thrilled that we made it through the regulatory hurdles/ regulatory challenge that we had last year – that was a major milestone for us. And then the whole launch risk, launching successfully was a major milestone for us. So, we are out of the gate.

That being said, it’s a startup company in Wireless, obviously Globalive has been around for over a decade but the Wind Mobile business is just starting up and so, we are building on the Globalive infrastructure and leveraging Globalive, but the reality is that this is a green field wireless build and what comes with it a lot of startup challenges. I’m thrilled to say that the team under Ken Campbell has been doing a great job, Ken Campbell being the CEO of Wind Mobile, they’ve been doing a great job in getting this network up and running throughout the GTA and Calgary, as you know we launched there in December.

And the early response, early results are fantastic; there is a lot of interest in what we are doing and certainly in terms of difficulties, obviously now that we have some several thousand customers on the network, we can start to see where we need to improve – whether the network has weaknesses end to end, where our systems have shortcomings so we are all over that. All in all, the reality is that I’m used to startup challenges and I’ve been setting up telecom businesses for a long time now so we are used to seeing this.

Jeff: And how would you say your service levels have been so far to date?

Anthony: I think our service levels in terms of our customer service are very good and we are going to differentiate ourselves significantly. So that we can have this ongoing dialog with Canadians about where WIND Mobile needs to improve and what WIND Mobile is doing well.

Jeff: You mentioned that Wind has a few thousand customers, is that according to business plan – is it better, at plan, or worse than the business plan so far to date ?

Anthony: It’s very early days so you know I could start to say well how we are doing relative to the plan, we’ve been up and running for three four weeks here so it’s too early plus the reality is that we do not have enough points of distribution and we are working hard to add points of distribution without going off model.

Of course, our model is no contracts, unlimited plans, unlimited voice, and unlimited data so we are absolutely committed to our model and we want to find distribution relationships that fit within our model. Within that framework, we need more points of distribution; we need to add more sites and get the network coverage. We need to expand the coverage so when home zones continue to get bigger, the “Wind Home Zones” as we call them; continue to get bigger and bigger. Overall, I think we are in the right direction.

Jeff: So far, Wind is the first new entrant in Ontario of the other two that are expected to launch – Public Mobile and Dave Wireless. How will the entrance of those other players affect your plans?

Anthony: It’s not going to affect our plans at all. The reality is, Jeff, we think we have demonstrated the value of Globalive business and the strategic partnership we have with Orascom Telecom and the various competitive advantages that it gives us. Starting with the voice clearly demonstrates the biggest advantage which is ‘Speed to Market’. As for the other new entrants, they don’t have a big strategic partner that’s got global scale and expertise in wireless.

Jeff: Does that put them at a dis-advantage ? Is that what is taking them so long to launch ?

Anthony: So, when you put the fact that a globalized existence national customer base in Canada partnered with a global operator in wireless, the outcome is we are able to move much more quickly than they have been able to. I would probably say that being the real reason not that they are sort of caught behind.

Jeff: What do you make of Public Mobile’s recent complaints, especially with Alex appearing on the US’s Fox news a couple of days ago (read more about that here), what do you make of their recent complaints to the CRTC objecting to WIND’s foreign ownership?

Anthony: First of all, I think that the foreign ownership rules are very important, particularly in broadcasting and media. Of course, as telecom converges with media, I’d actually argue that we need to look closely at the control ownership rules as telecom and media converge.

I slightly disagree that there is a lack of clarity in these rules. There is a tremendous amount of clarity and most importantly, there is a very large body of precedent decisions within which any new applicant can draw upon to ensure that their application is going to be compliant.

Jeff: So, having said that, do you think that considering the exception that was made for Wind and the precedent that was set, will this change the regulatory process that relates to foreign interest in Canadian telecom moving forward?

Anthony: I don’t think that any precedent was set with respect to WIND. I think the fact of reality is that WIND and Globalive have always said that we will be compliant. We’ve always said that we understand these rules and we fully intend to comply with these rules. What happened with Globalive is that the government initially said we are satisfied with Globalive after they made numerous changes. The CRTC then made further different changes to the Globalive structure and at the end of it, the CRTC said ‘OK, well, we are not yet satisfied and we want to see some additional changes’. And before we had a chance to really engage or go back to CRTC, we expressed our dismay and I was very vocal about it at the time, we received the go ahead.

This interview is the first of a 2 part interview. You can read the second part here.

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Jeremy Randalls January 18, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Finally we have some competiton in the Canadian market. It’s about time. Hopefully enough to get the other carriers to lower their price as well.

Human Growth Hormone August 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Electronic is important device now a day.

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