TELUS Mobility (TSE:T) has launched their HSPA 3G+ line-up upon Saskatchewan this week. The launch has been long overdue and has been dependent upon Sasktel to build the new network in the province. The new network already provides the largest HSPA coverage in the province and covers most of the main highways. The real highlight to the new network isn’t so much the speed or coverage but the selection of devices.
The phone selection is a very big contrast to the previous offerings which lacked any new releases. From BlackBerry there is a the regular selection of BlackBerry Bold 9700, BlackBerry Pearl 9100, and BlackBerry Curve 3G. Nothing here really blows away any previous offerings that couldn’t have been found before. On the other side of the fence, the initial batch also includes FIVE android models: Motorola Charm, Motorola Backflip, Motorola Milestone, HTC Hero, and HTC Desire. The Desire is a fantastic phone and I fully recommend checking it out for anyone looking to be impressed and move beyond the iPhone hype. Android is really catching on and gaining a lot of popularity and market-share. Beyond this there are a number of newer devices in stores on the 3G+ network:
Nokia E72, INQ Chat 3G, LG Cookie Plus, Samsung Elevate, Nokia 3710, LG Breeze, LG GB-255G, Samsung Advance, and LG New Chocolate. Something for everyone and a breathe of fresh air for the province of Saskatchewan.
Workers at Bell Mobility (TSE: BCE) client care department in Mississauga yesterday were ordered to a unionization vote by the Canada Industrial Relations Board. The actual vote will take place December 2 and 3. They have been assisted by the largest telco union in Canada, the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union, since November 2008. This union already represents 25,000 Bell employees.
Air Canada (TSE: AC.A) became the first North American airline to release an application for the Blackberry platform. The new application brings more real-time information to customers and allows them to check-in, board, and obtain flight details for Air Canada flights. The application is available for download from the Blackberry App World or directly from the Air Canada mobile site. The new application is launching at the same time as a revamped mobile site at http://mobile.aircanada.com for other mobile device users. The application for the iPhone is also available for download as well.
Bell Mobility (TSE: BCE) acquired 100% of Virgin Mobile Canada on May 7th, for a cost of $142 million CAD. Bell, who already controlled 50% of the company, was purchasing the remaining 50% of the company controlled by Virgin Group. Virgin Mobile Canada will continue to operate independently and maintain the Virgin branding. Virgin Mobile was created in 2004 by an equal partnership between Virgin Group and Bell Mobility. Virgin Mobile has been successful at targeting the youth market with its prepaid phones and more recently with its monthly plans.
Bell Press Release
The Sirius takeover of XM Satellite Radio is complete. The company has changed its name and is now called Sirius XM Radio Inc. Shares of Sirius XM (NASDAQ : SIRI) were down following the takeover and were seen trading around 1.34 on August 13. It is an exciting time for the new company. I am most interested in how this is going to affect exclusivity deals, such as NHL which was previously exclusive to XM. Since its a single company now, I really hope that the exclusives will be able to flow to the other providers radio. It should also be interesting to see the next generation of radios that will have access to both sets of signals. This is an exciting time for this company, and I hope that they will be able to continue to attract subscribers and really make things happen.
On Monday, Koodo Mobile
went live. This is a new offering that looks like it will compete directly with other pay as you go services like Virgin Mobile. The plans look very decent and I am particularly surprised to see unlimited text messaging for $5.. along with the lowest price package of $15.. This combination would make for very cheap texting. One thing that I’ve noticed that is a big step is the digital coverage across the country. This should make selling phones a lot easier in Saskatchewan where Telus currently offers digital coverage in Regina or Saskatoon. If they extend their phone lineup and continue to promote their services I see this becoming a very popular across the country.
SIRIUS Satelite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) CEO Mel Karmazin was at an investment conference today and expressed his optimism that the merger between Sirius and XM Satellite Radio will be approved by government regulators by the end of the month. This has sparked a somewhat huge increase trading today. There has been a lot of optimism recently surrounding the merger and todays news really adds to the momentum it is carrying.
Reuters has quoted Karmazin as saying, “The fact that it has lingered this long, it has been interpreted … as good news.” Karmazin also went on to say, “clearly if there was a big problem with the merger, it wouldn’t take the (regulators) this long to figure it out. Either you believe we compete with a whole bunch of audio choices or you think there’s a distinct market called satellite radio.”
SIRI was seen trading at up around 2.89 +0.14 (5.09%) while XMSR is also up at 11.71 +0.62 (5.59%) .
The Canadian dollar today reached up to a new all time high while it was trading today. It was over $1.10 for a bit today before it crept back a bit. The new heights that the dollar has been reaching are very surprising to many people. There are fears that the high dollar will cause a slowdown in the economy as less goods will be exported to the United States and more people are travelling to the United States for shopping. Right now it continuously appears that Canadian retail is ripping off the consumer. There has been some progress recently with stores like Walmart and Zellers bringing American prices across the border. But now with the dollar trading past parity it makes me wonder, why are they stopping with just matching some American prices and not beating them? I suppose it takes some time to work through their inventories and renegotiate contracts with the distributors. Whatever the case, I just hope we aren’t stuck with higher prices in Canada, and the inability to sell our goods to the United States since thats just an all around negative for Canada.
The rumour from the Globeandmail going around right now is that GST will be cut back to 5% on Tuesday, October 30. The cutback comes as a fulfillment of a Conservative election promise to decrease the GST to 5% back when they were elected. The federal government has been basking in surplus recently and it has even been said by TD Bank chief economist Don Drummond that it is forecast to be $14.5 billion this year. Hmm, around 30 million people in Canada and a surplus of that amount equals out to $483 per person. Now this doesn’t sound like too much but I’m sure there would be a lot of happy people to get that kind of cheque from the government. I’m just not sure the 1% GST cut is really what we need right now though. The economy is already heated and growing quickly, this kind of cut will increase consumer spending and will lead to more problems in the future. I’m sure there are a lot better ideas what they could use that money for. I wouldn’t mind a reduction in my tuition fees paid for by the government. In the meantime though, I will try to think of somethings to buy to make it seem like I’m getting a 1% discount.
During the past week Sirius Satellite Radio Inc (Nasdaq: SIRI) and XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR) stocks have both gained ground over recent optimism in their merger. One Citigroup analyst, Eileen Furukawa, has even stated that the merger prospects are likely to be about 69% by December 5th. Meanwhile, both stocks have been priced at much lower probabilities of the merger occuring. Some have said that the Sirius stock has a 41% chance of merger built into the price while the XM stock has a 29% chance of the merger occuring built in the price. Because of this, this analyst continues to put both companies as a “buy” and only time will tell whether they are right.
With the recent supporters of the merger from Members of Congress, consumer advocates, and Kia Motors all voicing that they are in favor of the merger I believe the FCC will do the right thing and allow the merger to take place. The reason why I really like the merger is for the possibility of getting the benefits from both services. I would really like to listen to the NHL broadcasts but that requires XM but I don’t want to leave behind all the benefits of Sirius.