Controversy over spectrum cap and expanding digital cellular to rural CanadaCanada’s national wireless operators are divided over two key issues raised in Industry Canada’s consultation on advanced wireless services. Microcell Telecommunications Inc. has once again found itself opposing its national brethren on the continued use of the spectrum cap to promote competition in the wireless sector and on mandated digital roaming to all wireless operators. In comments to DGTP-007-03, Microcell contends that removing the spectrum aggregation limit or increasing it would allow the other national competitors to engage in anti-competitive behaviour. The other carriers say the spectrum cap has outlived its usefulness and should be abolished. On extending digital cellular services into rural and remote Canada, Microcell says the issue isn’t only about ensuring small regional carriers can offer their subscribers wide area roaming, it’s also about making sure 800 MHz spectrum holders don’t unduly restrict access to the spectrum. Therefore, Microcell says that this provision should be extended to all carriers. Microcell’s competitors, on the other hand, agree with the department’s proposal that digital roaming should only be afforded to those regional carriers that don’t directly compete with the national carriers. The department’s Gazette Notice and comments can be viewed here. Report on Wireless will have more on the consultation process in an upcoming issue. Inukshuk, Allstream and NR launch service in second locationThe joint venture between Inukshuk Internet Inc., Allstream Inc. and NR Communications launched service in a second location on Saturday, March 13. Representatives from the joint venture (JV) were on hand at the Bearbrook Farm Bread and Breakfast in Vars ON, located about 30 minutes east of Ottawa, to demonstrate the multipoint communications service (MCS) system. The company unveiled its service in Richmond BC on March 4.The MCS service is a wholesale service offering capacity to local communications service providers. The JV’s first two customers were Allstream and Microcell Solutions Inc., and AOL Canada came on board on March 10. AOL will test the service over the next several months in certain areas of Toronto. JV representatives said during a March 4 conference call that they will soon unveil an aggressive deployment schedule and that service will eventually be available in all of Inukshuk’s 12 licence areas. Be sure to check an upcoming issue of Report on Wireless for detailed information about the service and expansion of the offering throughout the amalgamated city of Ottawa. Rogers Wireless unveils new branding campaignRogers Wireless Inc. introduced its new brand in the marketplace last week in a national advertising campaign, featuring television, newspaper and magazine, and outdoor promotions. The wireless operator announced on December 2 that it had decided to drop AT&T and go strictly with the Rogers Wireless brand. “We believe this transition brings greater clarity to our brand in Canada,” Nadir Mohamed, president and CEO of Rogers Wireless, said last year. AT&T Wireless continues to hold a 34% ownership stake in Rogers Wireless, but that interest will likely be transferred to Cingular Wireless when it finalizes its acquisition of AT&T Wireless. That is expected to take place late this year. AirIQ teams with Bluebird Auto on location-based servicesToronto-based telematics provider AirIQ Inc. has developed a telematics interface system for Bluebird Auto Rental Systems that allows vehicle rental companies to take advantage of location-based services. By combining AirIQ’s IQ-X interface protocol with Bluebird’s RentWorks vehicle rental software, Bluebird customers will be able to get the last known location information for vehicles, receive notification of when a vehicle leaves pre-determined boundaries, and display street-level locations of vehicles that are due back from a renter, among other functions. “With AirIQ’s interface, we can offer more fleet information on a timely basis, synthesizing business processes for our clients,” stated Angela Margolit, president of Bluebird in a news release. “With the additional information from AirIQ, Bluebird can now offer a comprehensive software solution to the rental vehicle industry from reservations and billing to fleet management.” Wi-LAN gets into the intelligent transportation marketWi-LAN Inc. and South Korean broadband network provider Wellink are teaming up to enter the intelligent transportation systems (ITS) market. The two companies will use their expertise in the broadband wireless market to offer Wi-LAN’s LIBRA 5800 Transit Mobility product to interested parties. As part of the agreement, Wi-LAN has agreed to provide Wellink with broadband wireless gear, valued at several million dollars, over the next 12 months.The two companies will target the ITS market in the Asia-Pacific region and will try to gain traction in the high-speed train market with services such as real-time video security, video advertising, and broadband wireless Internet. Infowave releases comprehensive enterprise mobile applications serverInfowave Software Inc. has introduced the Telispark Mobile Enterprise 2.5, a suite of configurable, enterprise mobile applications. The product includes two new modules, mCustomer and mOffice, that allow organizations’ mobile workers to access, edit and interact with detailed customer information such as asset information, service level agreements, personal information management services, and others. The Vancouver-based enterprise software provider gained the added product capabilities when it acquired Telispark last year (RoW, Jan. 13/04).Infowave has been expanding the breadth of its expertise recently through acquisitions. Last year, the company beefed up on customer-side capabilities through the acquisition of HiddenMind Technology LLC (RoW, June 23/03). “We can take (enterprises) all the way from an initial consulting and modeling stage all the way through to an application deployment stage," Bill Tam, executive VP of sales and marketing, told Report on Wireless at the time of the acquisition. INTERNATIONAL NEWSFCC to create rules on mobile spamThe U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to eliminate spam from mobile phones, and to this end, the commission has called for comments on this issue. On March 11, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking aimed at protecting consumers from spam and unauthorized telemarketing calls on their mobile phones. The commission is now seeking comment on how to best accomplish that and protect businesses from the costs, inefficiencies and inconveniences of receiving unwanted email messages on mobile devices. The move is in response to the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, passed by Congress last year. The FCC is also seeking further comment on two issues related to restrictions set out in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The commission wants to know if it should allow telemarketers reasonable opportunities to comply with rules in the era of local number portability. Secondly, the FCC seeks comment on whether telemarketers should be required to update their calling lists every 30 days. FCC commissioners to consider Nextel spectrum swap for public safetyThe Washington Post and other U.S news organizations have reported that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will now begin closer consideration of Nextel Communications’ complicated spectrum swap proposal on making more spectrum available for public safety groups. The FCC will also look into other proposals put forward by public safety stakeholders. The FCC’s Wireless Bureau delivered a draft of its recommendations to the commissioners last week. Once the commissioners have reviewed the document, they can either request changes to the proposal or vote to accept or deny the proposal outright. Nextel has proposed trading 10.5 MHz of its 800 MHZ spectrum for an equal amount in the 1.9 GHz band. Additionally, the company said it would pay US$850 million to reassign all current 800 MHz users to address potential interference issues with public safety organizations.