RoW International Short Takes

Comment period on E911 closes in United States
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) consultation on E911 compatibility rules came to a close last week with wireless operators saying E911 should be extended to mobile satellite service (MSS) providers as well. Verizon Wireless stated in its comments that it supports "ending mobile satellite service providers exemption from E911 obligations. … To the extent the commission seeks to impose E911 obligations on wireless resellers, legal and policy reasons support imposing any such obligations on them directly and not in the underlying facilities-based carrier." MSS providers balked at this suggestion. ICO Global Communications argued that subjecting MSS providers to E911 compatibility would require a huge investment in retrofitting their networks. As MSS providers objected to a requirement on their part to adopt E911 standards, the telematics industry also expressed similar sentiments. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Mercedes Benz submitted comments stating that regulating telematics services on vehicles isn’t required because the industry is already competitive and spurring growth and innovation. They said regulation will hamper those efforts. The FCC has mandated E911 for the country’s wireless operators by November of this year. The wireless industry has long opposed any firm deadline saying it is unreasonable to expect to have nationwide E911 by the November deadline.

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RoW People

BCE Inc. president and CEO Michael Sabia is one of eight new members to Adventis’ board of advisors. Adventis is a strategy and management consulting firm specializing in information industries. Also named to the advisory board are Betsy Bernard, president of AT&T; Pierre Danon, CEO of British Telecom Retail; Didier Delepine, president and CEO of Equant; Keith Cowan, chief planning and development officer at BellSouth Corp.; Matt Desch, CEO of Telecordia Technologies; Doug McMahon, VP worldwide telecom HP services of Hewlett-Packard; and Terrence Valeski, CEO and managing director of Eurotel.

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RoW Short Takes

Look Communications board approves rights offering
The board of directors of Look Communications Inc. has approved a rights offering for the company’s current shareholders. Under terms of the offering, shareholders would be able to purchase additional common shares of Look. Details of the plan are still under wraps, but the company expects to file the plan with the appropriate authorities in April. Look expects to generate approximately $20 to $25 million from the rights offering. Commonly referred to as a poison pill, a rights offering can offer significant protection against a hostile takeover bid. Last year, Craig Wireless International Inc. upped its stake in Look to about 30% by buying shares from Teleglobe Inc. (RoW, Feb. 4/03).

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SR Telecom to expand market reach through proposed Netro purchase

Montreal-based SR Telecom Inc. has inked an agreement to purchase struggling U.S.-based wireless equipment maker Netro Corp. in a complicated stock deal that will see Netro shareholders own 43% of the combined entity. As part of the US$121-million deal, SR Telecom will gain control of the highly touted Angel product line as well as the AirStar line of fixed wireless access products. The acquisition is expected to close in early July 2003.

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Rogers Wireless files Part VII over termination of long distance traffic by Telus

Rogers Wireless Inc. (RWI) and Telus Communications Inc. are locked in a battle over how Telus’ long distance calls are terminated on Rogers’ network in Alberta and British Columbia. The two companies have been working since July 2000 to settle the dispute, but negotiations proved fruitless and the matter has been referred to the CRTC.

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Wireless operators at odds over proposed spectrum licensing and fee regime

Industry Canada continues to come under heavy fire from the Canadian wireless industry for its controversial proposal to increase current spectrum licence fee levels paid by the mobile wireless sector by more than 30%. In comments to DGRB-004-02, the four national mobile wireless operators state that the proposed level of fees ($0.052 per MHz per person), which they deem to be excessive, will only serve to stymie growth in this already highly competitive market.

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Telus Cabinet appeal may put wireless operators on the financial hook for millions

Mobile wireless operators could be on the hook for significantly more money in contribution payments to Telus Communications Inc. if the western telco wins an appeal to the federal Cabinet over the CRTC’s controversial contribution and rebanding decisions (Decision 2000-745 and Decision 2001-238). According to a joint submission by Rogers Wireless Inc., AT&T Canada Corp. and Call-Net Enterprises Inc., collectively calling themselves the Competitive Coalition, the country’s mobile wireless carriers could be forced to ante up an additional $215 million to Telus if its petition to the Governor in Council is successful (DGTP-003-03).

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Common short code development gives wireless marketing a major boost

Wireless advertising and marketing could be bolstered by an industry initiative to work together to develop a list of common short codes. Short codes, which allow wireless subscribers to send a text message without having to type in the full 10-digit phone number, are already being used in various interactive TV promotions allowing fans to vote for contestants in reality TV shows, for example. The use of short codes offers the opportunity to go beyond traditional product and brand placement in advertising by adding a level of interactivity with viewers.

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Rumoured Microcell-AT&T Canada combination could prove fruitful

Microcell Telecommunications Inc. and AT&T Canada Corp. are said to be having quiet discussions about merger opportunities and the chance to take on Canada’s largest incumbent telcos in both the wired and wireless markets. Commenting on a potential Microcell-AT&T Canada combination, Yankee Group Canada senior analyst Jeremy Depow says he’s heard similar rumblings, and is convinced Microcell seems set to make a big play of one kind or another.

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