Eastlink launches second retail location

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Feb 222013

Eastlink launched its wireless network in Nova Scotia and PEI last week along with a single retail store in Halifax. It has now launched a second retail location at the Halifax Shopping Centre.

More locations are scheduled to open “in the weeks to come.” One will be at the Sunnyside Mall in Bedford and Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth. Another seven locations, including some in PEI, are expected to follow within the next 18 months. Eastlink, has in the past, said that it would not rush the deployment of its network. As company CEO Lee Bragg explained, “There’s no first to market advantage for us, we’re not in a big panic. We really want to do this right.”

Eastlink offers a combination of plans without contracts as well as bundles that include other Eastlink services (including TV and Internet). Among the devices it offers are the Sony Xperia T, Samsung Galaxy S III, Google Nexus 4, and the BlackBerry Bold 9900.

Read more: Eastlink (Source: MobileSyrup)

TELUS launches LTE network in Charlottetown, PEI

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Feb 172013

TELUS this week announced that it has launched its LTE network in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Customers can now expect to see peak download speeds of up to 75Mbps with average speeds ranging from 12 to 25 Mbps.

“TELUS’ ongoing commitment to offer the best experience for our customers continues with today’s launch of our 4G LTE service in Charlottetown,” said Ken Power, director of sales, TELUS. “Whether it’s on the latest smartphone like the BlackBerry Z10, on a tablet or wireless Internet key, even more of our Atlantic Canadian customers will enjoy blazing fast connections as we continue to expand this new technology, community by community, throughout 2013.”

TELUS LTE coverage for Charlottetown, PEI

Among the LTE devices that TELUS offers are the new BlackBerry Z10 as well as the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, LG Optimus G and HTC One X+ among others.

TELUS plans to further expand its LTE footprint to additional communities in the province “in the coming months.”

Read more: TELUS

Rogers President and CEO to retire in January 2014

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Feb 152013
Rogers Communications

There is some surprising news from Rogers this morning. Rogers Communications today announced that Nadir Mohamed, the company’s President and CEO, will retire in January 2014. Mohamed will continue to lead the company until then and will work with the board on transition activities.

“Nadir is a highly regarded executive who has delivered strong results and substantial value for more than a decade,” said Alan Horn, Chairman of the Board, Rogers Communications Inc. “Thanks to his disciplined and strategic management approach we’ve strengthened our core business, solidified our financial position and set Rogers up for long-term success. The board is grateful for his significant contributions and looks forward to working with him to ensure a seamless and orderly transition.”

Rogers will appoint a search committee and search firm to begin looking for a successor. Neither Edward Rogers, Deputy Chairman and Chair of the Rogers Control Trust, or Melinda Rogers, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Development, will seek the position. Both, along with Mohamed, will participate in the selection process.

No reason was given for Mohamed’s decision to retire.

Mohamed took on his current role in March 2009, succeeding the late company founder Ted Rogers. He has been with Rogers since 2000.

Read more: Rogers

Eastlink confirms February 15th wireless network launch

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Feb 132013

Canada’s Maritimes will have a new wireless carrier come Friday. Eastlink today confirmed that it will launch its wireless network on February 15th as earlier rumours had suggested. Unlike other new carriers, Eastlink will launch with an LTE network. “There are a lot more devices available if you have LTE,” explained Matthew MacLellan, Eastlink’s wireless president.

As expected, Eastlink’s network will focus on Novia Scotia and Prince Edward Island with coverage to blanket both provinces almost completely within 18 months of the launch:

Eastlink wireless coverage

Eastlink’s smartphone lineup will include the Sony Xperia T, Samsung Galaxy S III, LG Nexus 4 and two BlackBerry 7 devices. The BlackBerry Z10 will be offered starting next month. One flagship device that will not be offered will be the Apple iPhone 5.

As for plans, Eastlink has only confirmed that it will offer wireless services as part of bundles that offer customers discounts when they sign up for multiple products. Monthly price plans are also likely but we may have to wait until Friday to learn more about them.

Read more: The Globe and Mail

Rogers to launch new U.S. data roaming plan this spring

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Feb 102013
Rogers Communications

Rogers on Friday announced that it will soon launch a new roaming rate for customers travelling to the United States. The CA$7.99 pay-per-use plan will give customers 50MB of data in a 24 hour period while they are travelling in the U.S. Rogers estimates that this is nearly twice the average customer’s daily domestic usage and should be enough for about 50 maps, 200 web pages, 1,000 emails or over 5,000 tweets.

“Our customers have consistently told us they want certainty and peace of mind when using their wireless devices to access the Internet while travelling,” said Raj Doshi, Rogers Senior Vice President of Products. “Canadians’ connected habits are evolving, and our new roaming model is an important step in addressing the changing needs of our customers. With this simple and affordable roaming rate, customers will be able to use their devices while travelling just as they would at home.”

To help customers manage their roaming costs, alerts will be sent out before the 50MB threshold is reached.

The new Rogers U.S. data roaming plan will launch this spring.

Read more: Rogers

BlackBerry Z10 launch described as “best day ever” for BlackBerry

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Feb 062013

BlackBerry Z10BlackBerry appears to be quite pleased with yesterday’s BlackBerry Z10 launch. In short statement issued today, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins called yesterday the “best day ever” for the launch of a BlackBerry smartphone in Canada. Here is the full statement:

“In Canada, yesterday was the best day ever for the first day of a launch of a new BlackBerry smartphone. In fact, it was more than 50% better than any other launch day in our history in Canada,” said Thorsten Heins, President & CEO of BlackBerry. “In the UK, we have seen close to three times our best performance ever for the first week of sales for a BlackBerry smartphone.”

The statement does not make specific mention of any sales figures.

For its part, Rogers added that it “sold more BlackBerry smartphones on February 5th 2013 than any other day in Rogers history” and activated “activated thousands of BlackBerry Z10 smartphones yesterday.”

It appears that BlackBerry’s BlackBerry 10 launch is off to an auspicious start.

Apple iTunes Store sells 25 billionth song

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Feb 062013

Apple today announced that it has now sold over 25 billion songs through its iTunes Store.

“We are grateful to our users whose passion for music over the past 10 years has made iTunes the number one music retailer in the world,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Averaging over 15,000 songs downloaded per minute, the iTunes Store connects music fans with their favorite artists, including global sensations like Adele and Coldplay and new artists like The Lumineers, on a scale we never imagined possible.”

The 25 billionth song, “Monkey Drums” (Goksel Vancin Remix) by Chase Buch, was purchased by Phillip Lüpke from Germany. Apple gave him a €10,000 iTunes gift card to celebrate the event.

The iTunes Store has a catalog of over 26 million songs. It is now available in 119 countries

Read more: Apple

BlackBerry partners with Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team

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Feb 042013
RIM BlackBerry

BlackBerry knows that it will need to move fast to get back into the smartphone game. As part of its new Keep Moving ad campaign, it announced a new partnership with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team. Team principal Ross Brawn said,

“On the day that our new Silver Arrow, the F1 W04, is launched, we are very pleased to announce our partnership with BlackBerry. We are looking forward to embracing the new BlackBerry 10 platform at both a technical and operational level, as well as collaborating with the team at BlackBerry to bring new mobile innovation to MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS. It is especially pleasing to be able to launch this exciting partnership today as our latest Silver Arrow takes to the track with BlackBerry branding.”

Not only will the team use BlackBerry smartphones throughout the season but BlackBerry will also collaborate with the team on technical and marketing opportunities, including some apps and fan engagement.

As part of the new partnership, BlackBerry branding will feature on the chassis and headrest of the F1 W04 Silver Arrow, the racesuits of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and on the team’s racewear kit.

Read more: Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1

Google extends Exchange ActiveSync support to July 31, 2013

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Jan 312013

Today was to have been the day that Google’s Sync service would stop being available to new Windows Phone devices. Fortunately, Microsoft yesterday announced that Google was extending their support for new Windows Phone connections to July 31st, 2013. The extension will allow Microsoft to build into their software support for CalDAV and CardDAV, the protocols to be used to connect to Google’s Calendar and Contacts services.

At the same time, the Windows Phone team is building support into our software for the new sync protocols Google is using for calendar and contacts—CalDAV and CardDAV. These new protocols, combined with our existing support for the IMAP protocol for email, will enable Windows Phone users to continue to connect to Google services after July 31, 2013.

It’s likely that Microsoft will push out a new update before July 31st to add the necessary functionality to Windows Phone devices. While devices now using the service will find that the Google Sync service will continue to work past the deadline, it’s unclear how much longer Google will support it. An update would future-proof devices against a future shutdown of the service.

Read more: Windows Phone Blog

SaskTel launches LTE network

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Jan 302013

SaskTel was not kidding when it said that it would launch its LTE network in “early February 2013.” The carrier today announced that its LTE network would go live on January 31th, 2013 with service available in Regina, Saskatoon, Clavet, Dundurn, Langham, Lumsden, Martensville, Osler, Pense, Vanscoy, Warman, and White City. It adds that its network will have twice as many towers and up to 33% more speed than any other provider in Saskatchewan at launch.

“As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate and shape our future, it is important that as a province we embrace the new technology and the changes that it brings so that we can continue to grow our economy,” said Don McMorris, Minister Responsible for SaskTel. “This significant capital investment will allow SaskTel to deploy powerful new next generation technologies to better serve the people of Saskatchewan.”

SaskTel will spend an additional CA$5.2 million for Long Term Evolution expansion in 2013. Through the year, the network will be extended to include Dalmeny, Balgonie, Estevan, Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton.

SaskTel has been offering its customers LTE devices for a while now in preparation for today’s launch. Among them are the Apple iPhone 5, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, and the upcoming BlackBerry Z10.

Read more: SaskTel

Research In Motion is now called BlackBerry

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Jan 302013
RIM BlackBerry

As part of the BlackBerry 10 launch, Research In Motion today announced that it has renamed the company to reflect its brand. As of today, the company will officially be known as BlackBerry. As Thorsten Heins announced today: “From this point forward — we are BlackBerry. One brand. One promise. Our customers use a BlackBerry, our employees work for BlackBerry, and our shareholders are owners of BlackBerry.”

BlackBerry’s CMO, Frank Boulben, explains the move in a bit more detail in the video below:

BlackBerry will trade under the symbols $BB (TSX) and $BBRY (Nasdaq).

Read more: Inside BlackBerry

Lenovo downplays RIM acquisition story

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Jan 282013

Lenovo CFO Wong Waiming last week suggested that the Chinese company was open to the idea of acquiring Research In Motion in an effort to grow its mobile business as PC sales slow down. A statement sent to TheNextWeb by the company today suggests that certain statements may have been taken out context during the Bloomberg interview. Lenovo explains that Waiming’s comments were meant to be more general in scope:

In general, we do not comment on M&A rumors or speculation.

We are aware that Lenovo’s CFO [Wong] Waiming was speaking broadly about M&A strategy in a recent interview. RIM was raised as a potential target by the journalist and Mr. Wong repeatedly answered in a manner consistent with all of our previous statements on M&A strategy: Lenovo is very focused on growing its business, both organically and through M&A. When inorganic ideas arise, we explore them to see if there is a strategic fit.

With RIM open to various options to “create new opportunities, focusing on areas where we will be more effective partnering rather than going it alone, and ultimately maximizing value for all stakeholders,” it is likely that some level of discussion is happening or has happened between interested parties (including Lenovo). Such talks are likely on the backburner this week as RIM prepares to launch its BlackBerry 10 devices on Wednesday.

Read more: TheNextWeb

TELUS launches LTE in Thunder Bay

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Jan 262013
TELUS logo

TELUS yesterday announced that it has turned the switch on for LTE in Thunder Bay, Ontario. LTE device users can expect to see peak download speeds of up to 75Mbps with average speeds ranging from 12 to 25 Mbps.

“TELUS is committed to offering the best experience for our customers and the launch of our 4G LTE service in Thunder Bay is an excellent example of how we’re delivering on this promise.” said Hilen Wong, TELUS director of national retail. “With a 4G LTE device like the Samsung Galaxy S III, Note II and soon the BlackBerry 10, our customers right here in Thunder Bay will have the fastest wireless Internet at their fingertips, as fast as your home Internet connection but on your smartphone, tablet or Internet key. We continue to expand this new technology, community by community, so that by the end of the year more Ontario residents than ever will have access.”

TELUS LTE coverage for Thunder Bay, Ontario

To celebrate the launch, TELUS is offering new and existing customers a CA$50 rate plan that includes unlimited Canada-wide calling, voicemail, caller ID and 6GB of data from now until February 7, 2013.

With this latest expansion, TELUS’ LTE network now covers nearly 70 per cent of the Canadian population. Further expansion in Ontario is planned with Collingwood, Port Colborne, North Bay, Cornwall and Woodstock all on the roadmap.

Read more: TELUS (Source: MobileSyrup)

Nokia announces return to black with Q4 2012 financial results

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Jan 242013

Nokia today announced its financial results for the last quarter of its fiscal 2012 year. It had a pleasant surprise for its stockholders, reporting a profitable quarter after six quarters of losses. It saw an operating profit of US$585 billion (€439 million) on net sales of US$10.7 billion (€8.04 billion). According to CEO Stephen Elop,

“We are very encouraged that our team’s execution against our business strategy has started to translate into financial results. Most notably we are pleased that Nokia Group reached underlying operating profitability in the fourth quarter and for the full year 2012.

While the first half of 2012 was difficult for Nokia Group, in Q4 2012 we strengthened our financial position, improved our underlying operating margin in Devices & Services, introduced the HERE brand to expand our mapping and location experiences, and drove record profitability in Nokia Siemens Networks.

We remain focused on moving through our transition, which includes continuing to improve our product competitiveness, accelerate the way we operate and manage our costs effectively. All of these efforts are aimed at improving our financial performance and delivering more value to our shareholders.”

As it had previously announced, Nokia shipped 4.4 million Windows Phone Lumia devices during the quarter, up 51% from the 2.9 million the previous quarter. Of those, 700,000 were sold in North America, still Nokia’s smallest market. It also shipped another 2.2 million Symbian devices and 9.3 million Asha handsets.

Nokia expects that it could return to a loss in Q1 2013 due to “competitive industry dynamics” and Q1 typically being a slower quarter.

It remains to be seen if Nokia will announce new Lumia smartphones at MWC 2013. Recent rumours have pointed to a “true PureView Windows Phone” codenamed the Nokia EOS and the Nokia Catwalk.

Read more: Nokia

Lenovo considering RIM acquisition

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Jan 242013

Rumblings that Research In Motion could be acquired resurfaced today courtesy of Lenovo. Company Chief Financial Officer Wong Wai Ming said that such a move was under consideration during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:

“We are looking at all opportunities – RIM and many others. We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders.”

No final decision has been taken yet but Lenovo has held talks with RIM and its bankers to discuss various options. The story coincides with comments made this week by RIM CEO Thorsten Heins that selling the company’s hardware unit remained an option.

With its PC business waning as worldwide sales decline, Lenovo is looking to other sectors to maintain its profits. Both the smartphone and tablet markets are strong and RIM happens to offer both. While organic growth remains the priority, acquistions would certainly help Lenovo establish itself in new markets.

The acquisition would not be without its challenges. RIM stock has been on a tear ahead of its launch and would likely continue their climb if the BlackBerry 10 launch is strong. It could end up being pricier than Lenovo is willing to pay. The deal would also require approval from both Canadian and U.S. regulators as well as a review by the Canadian government to determine whether it would be of “net benefit” to the country.

Lenovo is not the first company to have expressed an interest in buying all or parts of RIM. Samsung has been mentioned a few times and IBM, Microsoft, Nokia and even Amazon have all been rumoured interested parties in the past.

Read more: Bloomberg