Big features for the little guyBell Canada has a new IP-based service for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Known as Business IP Voice, this latest addition to the carrier’s IP portfolio provides hosted voice-data applications to help SMBs stay connected. It operates on any high-speed Internet service and offers the usual run of calling features (caller ID, call display, call forwarding and call answer). Business IP Voice also presents find me-follow me, which provides a single phone number for multiple communication devices. It also offers the ability to forward voice mail messages to e-mail inboxes for message-management flexibility. Prices start at $64.95 per month. Business IP Voice follows other hosted IP communication products from Bell, including Managed IP Telephony for enterprises and Bell Digital Voice for consumers.   Internet growth curve flattens outCanadian Internet usage has plateaued, according to TNS Canadian Facts, a market information group. A recent survey from the firm indicates that 73% of Canadians use the Internet, virtually the same number of people online in 2002 (72%). "Some people are resistant to change, while others have financial barriers and still others see no personal relevance," says Richard Jenkins, TNS’ corporate director of public opinion research. But whereas in 2001 about half of Canadians used dialup connections, now just 30% do. High-speed Internet services are more popular these days. TNS says there’s a "rural digital divide:" in communities with fewer than 10,000 people, 53% use dialup. In larger communities 22% use dialup. Despite stagnation in Internet usage, more Canadians are into e-commerce. In 2004 29% of Canadians purchased goods online. Now that number stands at 34%. TNS conducted 1,153 interviews for the survey.   Circa rounds out revenue boostCirca Enterprises Inc., a Calgary telecom equipment maker serving carriers, utilities and construction companies, reports a $1.5 million boost in sales (24%) in Q2 2005 compared to Q1. Net earnings reached $300,000 in Q2, about the same as Q1. Circa’s custom metal fabrication business helped increase sales, as did the firm’s having delivered surge protection modules to a network equipment manufacturer, although Circa’s surge protection business sold less than it did in Q2 2004.   Telcos pull out the credit cardsTelecommunications service providers are expected to help drive worldwide technology spending to $1.3 trillion by 2009, according to IDC. The IT research firm in Framingham MA notes that telcos will make ongoing tech investments to roll out 3G wireless services, as well as transition their network underpinnings to IP. The health care, financial, manufacturing and government sectors will likewise pour money into technology over the next four years, such that the annual compound growth rate will be 5.9%, IDC says.   Businesses buy a bit more techForrester Research Inc. in Cambridge MA says businesses across North America and Europe will spend just 3.3% more on communication technology this year than they did in 2004. The tech advisory firm says that’s slightly worse than its predicted growth rate for the IT industry in general. Companies are most concerned with securing their communications and they’re spending on that aspect, Forrester says in a news release. The only service expected to experience a decline is landline voice. Businesses are adopting mobile apps faster than expected; most of the enterprises Forrester talked to have deployed mobile data applications. Meanwhile, 36% of companies are considering piloting IP phone services.   Northwestel barks up Juniper dealNorthwestel is installing Juniper Networks Inc.’s routers to improve network reliability. The Bell Canada subsidiary serving Northern B.C., the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon chose Juniper’s M-series and J-series routers for core, edge and customer premises deployment. According to a Juniper news release Northwestel will build a redundant M-Series network and the core and the edge for voice, data, VPN and IP-MPLS support, while J-series boxes will sit at Northwestel’s business customers’ premises for secure connections to the backbone. Jupiter’s routers employ a modular operating system that allows multiple functions to run on assigned processors for a stable yet flexible environment, Juniper says. "The ability to run one common software release across all our core routers will simplify operations and new products introduction," says Paul Flaherty, Northwestel’s CEO.   Aliant donates old servers to schoolsAliant has found a unique way to unload its aging technology gear: give it to academic institutions. The Eastern Canada telco is donating $500,000 worth of servers to regional colleges and universities. Aliant has the gear to give because it upgraded its technology with new Sun Microsystems Inc. equipment. The service provider decided to donate the equipment rather than trade it in or resell it. "Our researchers welcome this increased computing capacity to simulate complex ecological dynamics and develop innovative software tools to support forest ecosystem planning," says Glenn Payne, research co-ordinator at College of the North Atlantic. Other schools on the server recipient list are Nova Scotia Community College, Université de Moncton, Acadia University, University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison University and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.   MTS unveils security suiteManitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS) says it’s helping consumers in the battle against viruses, spyware and hackers with ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 6.0 software. Launched earlier this month, the protective package is included with a subscription to MTS’ high-speed Internet service. Created by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., ZoneAlarm offers e-mail virus scanning, spam filtering, spyware blocking, and an alert that informs users whenever personal information is about to leave their computers.