Here are some highlights and other Public Mobile appearances in the public eye.
Wireless giants will take toll on new players, Public Mobile says
Jamie Sturgeon, Financial Post, June 17, 2009
TORONTO – Two of Canada's three major new wireless carriers that plan to hit the market in the next several months will not survive their first year, said Alek Krstajic, the chief executive of one of them on Wednesday.
Speaking to an audience of several hundred industry members at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto, Mr. Krstajic, who heads Public Mobile Holdings Inc., said the sheer scale and competitive advantage possessed by incumbent carriers Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada and Telus Corp. will make it impossible for more than one to survive.
"Two out of three won't be around for the next telecom summit. That is a reality," Mr. Krstajic, a former Bell president, said. "We are really up against some massive forces when you talk about size and market caps of the incumbents. They are huge."
Anthony Lacavera, the co-chair of Globalive Wireless and Dave Dobbin, president of DAVE Wireless Inc. begged to differ during a lively panel discussion between the new entrants which served as the finale of the annual three-day conference of the industry's top players."The reality is, it's going to be a fight, but all three can exist," Mr. Lacavera said.
The three companies have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to the federal government to win the rights to respective portions of Canada's wireless spectrum that will allow each to launch there own mobile-phone services later this year or early next.
Public Mobile, Globalive Wireless and DAVE are investing millions more now to build out networks across the country.
And while the incumbents suggest the market is approaching a saturation point as nearly seven in 10 Canadians are already wireless subscribers, the new entrants say penetration can go further.
"There's room in the market place," said Mr. Dobbin on Wednesday, noting other markets, like in Europe, where the number of wireless accounts exceeds the total population. "There is a lot of opportunity out there to be addressed."
Mr. Lacavera said Globalive plans to launch late this year or early next in major cities like Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa. DAVE will launch early next in major markets nationwide, Mr. Dobbin said.
Mr. Krstajic said Public Mobile, which has licenses to swaths of spectrum between Windsor, Ont. And Quebec City, will launch sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.
The heads of the three startups said timetables were not fixed. "Canadians are only going to give us one shot to prove ourselves," Mr. Lacavera said.
Going up against Rogers, Bell and Telus with combined sales of $39-billion and equally sizable market capitalizations will be a very tall order, analysts say.
One area where the new entrants think they can win customers who are fed up with expensive and often unclear bills from the incumbents is pricing.
Both Globalive and DAVE -- an acronym for Data & Audio Visual Enterprises Inc. – plan to offer a range of handsets from traditional cellphones to cutting-edge smartphones like BlackBerry devices to go along with what both promise will be comparatively better voice-and-data plans.
Neither elaborated on what their pricing would look like. "We don't know what our price plans will be [but] what I can assure you is that we can offer Canadians three things" which are value, pricing flexibility and transparency, DAVE's Mr. Dobbin said.
Public Mobile's candid Mr. Krstajic was more specific, saying the carrier will offer one $40 flat-rate plan for unlimited voice and text-messaging.
"It will not be more," he said. "That $40 gets you unlimited talk and text. If you want to surf the Web with your phone, if you want the functionality of an iPhone you can go to one of my colleagues up here or with Rogers, Bell or Telus. That won't be coming from us."
Mr. Krstajic said Public Mobile was planning to avert head-to-head competition with the incumbents.
Instead, he said the company is aiming at the "lower-end" of the market toward customers that do not currently own a mobile-phone and are interested only in voice and text services. "We're going after a market the incumbents actually don't want," he said.
That may not be entirely true though. The three incumbents all offer discount or so-called "flanker" brands presently. Pricing on plans from Rogers' Fido, Telus's Koodo line and Bell Canada's Solo and Virgin brands have already come down as certain costs, such as system access fees have been cut.
Analysts say they could move to match whatever pricing strategy an entrant brings to market.
Globalive has also made known plans to introduce a two-tier strategy using its Yak brand to gain lower value voice-only subscribers.
"The incumbents have already made some reactions," said Mr. Lacavera. "They're going to make more as we get down the road. What we need to do is position ourselves to be flexible and adaptable, focus on customer service ... so that we can react to whatever the incumbents do."