Wednesday, July 16, 2008

E3 Announcements in a Nutshell

Bookmark and Share
The Announcements from the big three video game companies at E3 2008


Greatest Hits coming for Playstation 3 starts with Resistance: Fall of Man and ports from Playstation 2 which include Ninja Gaiden, , Call of Duty 3, Fight Night, and Elder Scrolls

80 GB Playstation 3 to replace 40 GB Playstation 3

*** New Exclusives ***
Resistance 2
Little Big Planet
God of War III


Wii Speak, headset for chatting while online gaming

Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (DS) A surprise debut for the Grand Theft Auto franchise on a Nintendo system, and one of the first Mature rated game for the DS being the handheld system that appeals to the 6 to 16 year old set.
Wii Sports Resort: a follow up to Wii Sports the game that ships with every Wii Console
Wii Music: Nintendo's version of the music playing simulators like Guitar Hero and RockBand


XBox live will get redesign players will be able to create avatars.

*** New Exclusives ***
Fallout 3
Resident Evil 5
Fable II
Gears of War 2
RockBand 2
Final Fantasy XIII

Friday, July 11, 2008

Why Canadians Are Getting Fleeced By Cell Phone Companies

Bookmark and Share
The recent public outcries surround the pricing for the plans that Rogers charges for the use of the iPhone, and Bell and Telus announcing plans to charge for incoming text message have brought to light how much more Canadians pay for cell phone service than cell phone users in other countries. What has to be on the minds of many Canadians is how we got into this mess with a few companies charging high rates and fees on top of fees?

In the early days given Canada's large land area in compairson to the low population density meant that building the early cellular networks were very expensive. There were very low numbers of subscribers in the first few years which meant paying thousands of dollars for a bag phone which was required because the nearest cell tower may be as many as twenty kilometres away. Airtime minutes cost dollars instead of the pennies they are today. As the number of subscribers grew cellular infrastructure was built and phones got smaller and more convenient to use which meant costs could come down which it did but didn't come down as much as in other countries.

Everybody who has a contract with their cell phone pays a monthly system access fee of $6.95 ($8.95 for Bell subscribers) per month. Originally the system access fee was paid to the federal government but that ended in 1987, so what was originally a government tax grab became a profit grab for the cell phone industry. Another 'fee' which is a profit grab is the 911 fee just about every telephone (both wireline and cellular) subscriber pays, 911 is actually funded through municipal taxes not telco fees.

The Telcos and Rogers have consistantly agrued before the CRTC is that Canada is a small market for cell service, which in the first decade of cellular service in Canada may have been true. That is probably why only two companies (ClearNet and Fido )were allowed to enter the market in the mid 1990's when Digital cell service came to Canada. Clearnet was bought out by Telus in 2000 and Fido was bought by Rogers in 2004. Both had to pay millions to buy their CRTC licences through the auction process. The costs of buying licences through the auction process and building cellular infrastructure left both Fido and Clearnet with billions of dollars of debt which made them easy take over targets. Any new company entring the market now is already at a disadvantage because of license auctions.

There is very little doubt that the cell phone companies are gouging consumers, but don't forget that the feds have their dirty little hands in the pie too.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rogers Caves in on iPhone Rates (Kind of)

Bookmark and Share
Reacting to public outrage Canada's exclusive carrier of the Apple iPhone has slashed rates. For thirty dollars a month users who sign up for a three year contract will get six gigabytes of 3G data transfer. A similar amount of data usage would have to pay 100 dollars a month. The thirty dollar per month plan is available to anybody who activates any 3G smartphone, not just an iPhone. The thirty dollar a month deal starts when the iPhone launches July 11th and lasts until the end of August. That thirty dollars doesn't include the $6.95 dollar per month system access fee that the cell phone carriers have been using to fleece Canadian subscribers for years.

If Rogers really wanted to put an end to the outrage then put out an unlimited data plan at a good price.

Bell and Telus Customers To Get Hosed For Receiving Text Messages

Bookmark and Share
Users of the post office don't pay for the mail they receive, but the mail they send. That's the way it's always been. That's also the way it's been for cell phone text messaging but that's going to come to an end next month. Canadian cell carriers Bell and Telus are going to change that. For customers who do not have a texting plan as part of their cell phone subscription. In August both carriers will introduce a charge fifteen cents per text message that they get.

This already has subscribers complaining that the cell carriers are just nickel and dimeing subscribers, but ultimately the goal of the cell carriers is to get subscribers to add text messaging packages to cell phone subscriptions.

The companies currently competing in the auction to enter the cell phone market in Canada will take about two years to get started, looks like it's going to be a very long two years.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cell License Auction is Just About Over, a Little More Competion Coming

Bookmark and Share
The auction for radio frequency licenses for Canada's new cell phone carriers is drawing to a close. It is starting to look like there will be only one potential new national carrier coming and half a dozen regional carriers. The only company that has a hope to become the next national cell carrier is a company called Globalive Communications, which is better known as Yak, a provider of discount long distance service. The current leaders for regional licenses are Shaw Communication in Western Canada, Quebecor in Quebec and Bragg Communications in Atlantic Canada.

Now that there is an idea of who the new cell phone carriers will be, now the next question is going to be is which cell technology will they use GSM or CDMA? For a new cell phone provider to go GSM would be the smart bet. For Globalive or any of the new regional carriers it would be easier to make one roaming agreement with Rogers than four agreements with Bell, Telus, MTS, and Sasktel. Even for Globalive who intends on making a national network, a roaming agreement will be needed because during the build out in the first couple of years Globalive will only have towers if the major cities with smaller communities won't have coverage without a roaming agreement with an existing provider.

There is another prize in 2010 for any new cell providers if they choose to use GSM the international roaming fees from the Vancouver Winter Olympics. If any new Canadian providers can make roaming agreements with foreign cell phone companies they will take what is expected to be a win fall away from Rogers.

Phones using Google's Android operating system for smart phones about to hit the market in the next year will also weigh heavily on the minds of the operators of any new cell phone carrier. In the United States it is expected that one of the underdog cell providers like T-Mobile or SprintNextel will be the first to offer the Google Android smart phone. If Google makes an exclusive agreement with ether T-Mobile or SprintNextel similar to the exclusive agreement that Apple made with AT&T for the iPhone could help sway any new cell carrier on this side of the border to ether GSM or CDMA. If an exclusive agreement is made with T-Mobile which is a GSM carrier then one or more of the upstart carriers will more likely go GSM. If an exclusive agreement between Google and SprintNextel a CDMA carrier comes then it will be likely that at least one of the new carriers will use CDMA.

If there is one downside of the conclusion of the Wireless telephony auction is the number of regional carriers that could come to the market. That would mean the return of roaming fees for subscribers when travelling outside of the home region. With the emergence of Telus as a national carrier in 2000, and Bell swollowing up Aliant in the past couple of years meant less competition regionally but at the very least roaming fees just about became a thing of the past. Only subscribers of MTS and Sasktel pay roaming fees when travelling outside of Manitoba and Saskatchewan respectively and Bell subscribers pay roaming fees when travelling to Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Subscribers to any to the new regional cell carriers will re-learn what a shocking experience opening the cell bill will be because of roaming fees. The next couple of years will be both an exiting time and a scary time to be a cell phone subscriber in Canada.

Blog Archive