Bell buys Infostream TechnologiesBell Canada has purchased, for an undisclosed price, Richmond Hill ON-based Infostream Technologies Inc. Infostream provides Bell with systems and storage design capabilities, and turnkey and customer specific networking products for VoIP, storage area networks and network management for enterprise customers. “The proliferation of global IP standards is creating increased digitization of mission critical information, which in turn drives greater need for managed storage and protection of customer data,” Isabelle Courville, president of Bell’s enterprise group, is quoted as saying in a media release about the deal.Peer 1 intros free peering servicePeer 1 Network Enterprises Inc. has introduced its new PIX free peering service. The product is available in Peer 1’s Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver data centres, and allows free connection with the switch fabric, which a media release says will lower carriers’ costs and improve network performance. “Currently, a large portion of local Canadian traffic is routed through the United States, even though the end destination may be literally down the street from the origin. Giving networks the opportunity to connect to each other at PIX allows traffic to stay within the local market, increasing the network speed for their customers,” reads the same release.Allstream launches Mitel IP productAllstream Inc. is now offering Mitel Networks’ 3300 Integrated Communications Platform to enterprise customers migrating to an IP data and telephony environment. A media release notes that the product is scalable, and, when coupled with Allstream’s management capabilities, will allow customers to take advantage of IP telephony while protecting their legacy voice messaging and PBX systems. The Mitel product also offers features such as unified messaging, conferencing and collaboration tools, contact centre capabilities, “plug-and-work” telecommuting, wireless integration and desktop video applications.CGI to build IT support centre for ManulifeA memorandum of understanding between Manulife Financial and CGI Group Inc. sees the duo inking a $120-million, five-year contract for CGI to build and operate an information technology support centre in Halifax. The centre will employ 300 people by September 2004, and CGI expects that number to grow to over 500 over time, according to a media release. CGI will also use the centre to serve other clients. It will become Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and ISO 9001 quality certified. The centre is being built to support Manulife in the wake of its acquisition of The Maritime Life Assurance Company, which was completed on April 28.Big revenue jump for Q9 Networks Inc.Toronto-based Q9 Networks Inc. saw its total revenue jump 38.4% in Q2 2004 compared to the same period a year earlier, rising to $6.27 million. Revenue for co-location saw a 50.1% hike to $2.23 million for the same period, which also saw revenue for managed bandwidth increase by 15.9% to $1.61 million. A media release announcing the company’s financial results notes that revenue growth was the result of sales to both new and existing customers. Despite the strong top line performance, the company saw a net loss in the second quarter of $2.69 million, which compares to a net loss in the same period a year earlier of $7.05 million. Excluding a one-time lease termination fee of $1.57 million, the company would have seen positive EBITDA for the quarter of $1.57 million. In the same media release, CEO Osama Arafat notes that, “our revenue has grown to a level where it is sufficient to meet our ongoing operating cash requirements.”CCTA unveils five-point plan for competitionThe Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) says that as convergence “is finally happening in consumer homes across Canada,” Ottawa needs to take steps to promote competition in local telephony and broadcasting markets. The CCTA calls for policy makers to: “ease restrictions on Canadians’ freedom of choice; relax content regulations in small communities; adopt open investment rules; promote telephone service competition in the monopoly telephone market; and, combine enforcement and choice to better address satellite signal theft.” The proposals are discussed in greater detail in the association’s recently released annual report.NTG wins Algerian telecom management contractToronto-based NTG Clarity Networks Inc. has won a $1.8-million contract from Algeria Telecom to provide consulting services to manage the upgrade of Algeria Telecom’s existing telecom structure to a new broadband platform. Services will include network design, service definition, equipment recommendations, contract negotiations and project management. Work to complete the contract is expected to begin next month. “This contract validates NTG’s international growth strategy and focus on strategic opportunities that are consistent with the company’s extensive networking, telecom and software development expertise,” said chairman/CEO Ashraf Zaghloul in a media release. “We are please to win this opportunity and we look forward to developing a long-term relationship with Algeria Telecom and in developing new opportunities in Algeria and neighbouring North African countries.”CRTC chooses forbearance on some private line servicesThe CRTC will forbear, with some conditions, from regulating additional high-capacity/DDS interexchange private line services on routes where competitors to incumbent local exchange carriers now offer services at DS-3 or greater bandwidth (Telecom Decision 2004-39). Each of Allstream, Bell West, East Link, Navigata, TELUS Québec and TELUS now see some of their routes forborne as a result of the decision.Unions urge Aliant customers to demand rebatesThe Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) and the Atlantic Communication and Technical Workers Union (AC&TWU) are calling on consumers to register their displeasure with the state of telecommunications service from Aliant Inc. The two unions are currently on strike against the Atlantic telco over job and pension protection. In a news release, CEP and AC&TWU say they’ve received reports that high-speed Internet service is running at only 25% capacity in parts of the system, and that “installation delays are well beyond acceptable limits.” The unions are urging Aliant customers to make their dissatisfaction known by demanding rebates on their telecom bills. “Atlantic Canadians do not have to keep paying 100% for 25% service,” says CEP administrative VP Ervan Crook in a media release. “Tell Aliant you want your money back.” The unions also say that Aliant has gone to the CRTC to “forego its obligation to pay rebates to customers suffering poor service.”An Aliant spokesperson denies that the company is seeking protection from paying rebates to customers experiencing service problems, and calls the unions’ press release misinformation. Brenda Reid tells Network Letter that an application last month by the company to remove its tariff obligation to recover startup costs has exactly the opposite intent. She says the application is intended to ensure that Aliant doesn’t have to charge parties for installation costs when they experience lengthy delays.As to suggestions that Internet service performance is sluggish or absent, Reid says she has no idea where the unions are getting their information since details on network operations are confidential to the company. She does not deny that customers are experiencing delays, which she says can be between a day and several weeks, depending on the types of service request, as a result of the strike. She notes that the company is giving priority during the disruption to emergency services. “It’s not business-as-usual, as you can imagine.”TELUS, Chalk Media team up to provide hospital acess for kidsTELUS Corp. and Chalk Media Corp. have donated a wireless Internet café and musical therapy program to the Child Life Program at BC Children’s Hospital. The two companies have provided desktops, laptobs, music therapy software, web cams, printers and educational software to the hospital. A launch of the café today will feature the Canadian hip-hop band Swollen Members and David Nonis, GM of the Vancouver Canucks hockey club.