GM adopts multimedia hosted IP Telus Corp. has landed an $11-million contract to provide Oshawa, Ont.-based General Motors of Canada Ltd. with IP Centrex. Telus says it will give some 5,000 GM employees access to IP-One Evolution, a hosted IP communication service for enterprises. It provides IP phone connections and integrated multimedia messaging. Users can access their voice mail messages from an Internet portal, for instance.  Bell Canada reportedly was GM’s service provider of choice before this, making the win for Burnaby, B.C.-based Telus something of a coup. The firm has always sought to become a big-business telecom provider in the lucrative central Canada market. Now it has a cornerstone customer with which it might prove to be a real enterprise contender in Ontario and Quebec. And it may be as much a win for Nortel Networks as it is for Telus. IP-One Evolution is based on Nortel technology, which provides multimedia connectivity (voice, video, data and associated applications). In one contract, Telus has attracted a significant number of users to this platform, perhaps even more users than Telus’s other IP-One product, IP-One Innovation, has garnered. The latter is built on Cisco Systems Inc.’s converged voice-data platform, and it’s meant for small- to medium-sized businesses. Judging from the words of Michael Lank, Telus’s director of managed VoIP solutions, IP-One Evolution might prove more popular than its little brother. "The success of our solutions is going to be largely derived from the installed base…. In the hosted telephony world, Nortel will hold the dominant share." Telus Strike Hurts and HelpsThe Telus work stoppage is shaping up to be lengthy battle: Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU) president Bruce Bell has said the strike could last six to eight months. Alberta and B.C. courts have put restrictions on just how close strikers are allowed to stand to a vehicle entrance to Telus’s premises; the courts also said the TWU supporters must refrain from Web-publishing pictures of workers breaking the picket lines. Telus has postponed the rollout of its TV service until after the strike, while the Pacific National Exhibition has barred Telus maintenance work on its property for the duration. But the labour conflict has a silver lining for some. Alternative network providers are getting more business. MetroBridge Networks Corp., a wireless broadband provider in Vancouver, says it has been fielding far more questions about its product from potential customers as people look for connectivity options. The strike is the result of the breakdown in discussions between Telus and the TWU, talks that began way back in 1999 when Telus merged with B.C. Telecom. May the two sides come to see eye to eye soon, lest Telus finds itself even worse off in the CRTC’s complaints department than Bell is (see next item). Strike Hampered Bell’s Service ImprovementsComplaints at the CRTC concerning Bell Canada "service issues" shot up between April and July, when workers at Bell’s Entourage subsidiary, which performs network services at customers’ premises, were on strike. From April 1 to June 29 there were 805 service-issue complaints concerning Bell. Compare that to 356 service-issue complaints in the first quarter. Service issues have to do with repairs and restoration after network outages. Bell acquired Entourage Technology Solutions Inc. in February. Nearly 1,400 Entourage employees, members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, went on strike in March over pension, benefits, compensation and job security concerns. Ironically, Bell made 2005 its year to enact service improvements. Carriers Rank High in Online CareHere’s some good news about service providers. Bell Canada, Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp. are among the Canadian carriers that received "good" scores in The Customer Respect Group Inc.’s (CRG) Q2 2005 assessment of how well network operators deal with clients online. The CRG’s Customer Respect Study of Canadian telcos ranks each service provider on a Customer Respect Index (CRI). Scores of eight and up are considered excellent. Scores of four and below are considered poor. Customer Respect IndexRogers7.5Bell Canada7.3Telus7.3Microcell6.9Shaw6.8Vonage6.8Aliant6.7Sprint Canada6.7Cogeco6.5Allstream6.0Primus6.0Vidéotron4.9Average6.6 Bell, Rogers and Telus all scored between seven and eight on the CRI scale, which scrutinizes speed of response, ease of use of the carrier’s website, and the usefulness of carrier responses. Telus improved its score significantly (it was 5.6 in 2004; it’s 7.3 in 2005) by bettering response times. The CRG said Canadian firms answered 85% of all email queries, although only 60% of the questions were answered within a day. Sixty-two percent of the carriers’ responses were "very helpful." That’s a 15% improvement over last year’s numbers. The average CRI across all Canadian providers was 6.2. Vidéotron ltée had the lowest score, 4.9. According to CRG, Vidéotron scored so low because the company failed to answer any emails. Dobbin’s the New THT NogginToronto Hydro Telecom Inc. has a new president in Dave Dobbin, former chief operating officer of Telecom Ottawa, the communication subsidiary of Hydro Ottawa Holdings Inc. Known as something of an industry shaker, Dobbin replaces Ian Miles at the helm of THT. It should be interesting to see where Dobbin takes the company, an offshoot of Toronto Hydro Corp. For instance, Miles often said THT had no interest in entering the market for voice services, where it would compete head on with the likes of Bell Canada. Might Dobbin take that chance? Spam King to Pay DamagesScott Richter, the so-called Spam King, has agreed to pay Microsoft Corp. US$7 million after a court settlement. Microsoft and the New York state Attorney General had sued him in 2003 for filling up people’s email in-boxes with unwanted solicitations. "We made significant changes to OptInRealBig.com’s e-mailing practices and have paid a heavy price," Richter said in a Microsoft press statement. Microsoft said it would donate US$1 million from the settlement to a New York state community centre computer program and spend US$5 million on Internet safety endeavours. Most of the "known spam operations" on The Spamhaus Project’s website work out of the U.S., although Canadians are also prominent on the antispam consumer advocacy group’s rundown. Utilities Tap into IPIt’s only a matter of time—a short time, at that—before utilities companies will use IP-based communications for their operations, dispatch and call centre departments. So says the United Telecom Council, a Washington, D.C.-based global trade organization. The organization says utilities will turn to IP for video surveillance and data collection, among other things. The report says IP spells cost savings, but utilities will have to address their ageing data infrastructures if they expect to support services like VoIP. Linton Appointed Rogers EVPBill Linton, former CEO of Call-Net Enterprises Inc., is now Rogers Communications Inc.’s executive vice-president. Rogers purchased Call-Net and its Sprint Canada phone service in July, renaming the new subsidiary Rogers Telecom Holdings Inc. Avaya Has Shipped 7 Million IP LinesAvaya reports that it has shipped its seven-millionth IP line. Avaya says its shipments of IP lines will exceed those of circuit-switched lines this year; it claims 21% of the world market for IP telephony line shipments. Alcatel Boosts Canadian PresenceAlcatel means to improve its prospects in this country with more resellers. According to Tom Eggemeier, Alcatel’s vice-president, North America channel activities, the France-based firm means to have 10 Canadian resellers by the end of 2005, and by 2006, 15 to 20. Alcatel has just three resellers now. The idea is to capture more of the Canadian enterprise market share. Alcatel has been quiet in Canada recently. It purchased Ottawa-based telecom equipment provider Newbridge Networks Corp. in 2000, but since then questions about Alcatel’s commitment to Canada have dogged the firm as it chiseled the Canadian work force down to size between 2000 and 2002. Cisco Unveils AP ControllerCisco Systems Inc. is moving up the wireless LAN chart with a new access point controller for large businesses. The San Jose, California, network giant announced the Cisco 4400 series of access point controllers in July, saying the newest additions to its product portfolio support up to 100 access points at a time, and include expansion slots for VPN termination and other options. Cisco’s earlier controllers (2000, 4100) are meant for smaller deployments. Like its baby brothers, the 4400 employs Cisco’s patent-pending Radio Resource Management algorithms that detect and adjust to changes in the air for maximum network coverage.