Thursday, May 21, 2009

Save "Local" TV, They Can Save Themselves

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For the past couple of weeks CTV stations have been running ads promoting their website. These ads and their web site are an attempt to create public support for a proposal from CTV and their competitor Canwest Global to charge a carriage fee to cable and satellite providers for the use of their signals. Cable and satellite providers have been very up front that any carriage fee would be passed directly onto subscribers.

Making cable subscribers pay for the same old analog signals that those using antennas will still get to use for free just creates an unfair subsidy. Subsidizing those who do not have access to cable or satellite tv service simply is not acceptable.

The broadcast networks claim that their situation is critical and the would be forced to shut down over the air stations. Their current "crisis" has come from using the same old business model from the time before cable TV came into people's homes in the 1970's. Running the same shows from NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox simply won't cut it any more. There are many many shows that don't even get a chance to be seen on Canadian television. Maybe picking up some of those shows will give people a reason to tune in to their local CTV or Global stations.

Don't expect me to save CTV and Global from their outdated business practise, they can save themselves.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Canada's Slow Road to 4G

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Within the next couple of years the cell phone industry is going to be making a change that is as big as the change from analog cellular to digital back in the mid 1990's. Cell phone carriers are going to be making a change over from current GSM and CDMA networks to new networks using Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) . While LTE is true 4G right from deployment UMTS is 3.5 G with supporting carriers claiming that UMTS will be 4G equivilant.

The largest GSM carrier AT&T and the largest CDMA carrier, Verizon will be making the switch to LTE, T-Mobile will be using UMTS. The 4th cell carrier, Sprint will be using WiMax as their technology for their 4G services. In Canada the picture looks very different. Only Rogers is planning to deploy LTE based 4G, Canada's other cell carriers Bell, Telus, and the other two regional cell carriers are going with UMTS.

This presents an issue for cell phone toting snowbirds on Bell or Telus, Any UMTS phone will need CDMA fallback in order to work in any area where there is no service provided by T-Mobile. Without the ability to fall back to CDMA a customer on Bell or Telus may find themselves without cell phone service in Manitoba or Saskatchewan because the regional cell carriers in those provinces will not have UMTS deployed in many areas for may years to come.

Just like the days of the switch over from analog to digital, the change to 4G will bring services that are not yet even imaginable. But just like that earlier transition the switch to 4G the ability to fall back to 2.5, 3G systems will be be just as essential.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Canadians Getting Android Phones and Palm Pre

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Two of the most sought after smartphones by Canadians are set to arrive in the Great White North. Google's Android will make it's Canadian debut on two phones on the Rogers Wireless network. The HTC Dream, sold in the United States as the G1 and the upcoming Magic also made by HTC will go on sale on June 2nd. That other got to have smartphone the Palm Pre will also be coming to Canada on Bell Mobility some time in the second half of 2009. The Pre has yet to launch in the United States but it is expected within the month.

The agreement that brings the Palm Pre to Canada is an exclusive agreement with Bell which means that for Western Canadians most of which cannot subscribe to Bell mobility the Palm Pre will still be out of reach. Rogers bringing Android based phones to Canada comes to a surprise to many because none of the Canadian cell phone carriers are members of the Open Handset alliance but with new competition coming within the year and a half it really isn't surprizing that the existing carriers are going to snap up the most popular phones in advance of the launch of any new competitors.