Much has happened in the Canadian wireless business over the past year. A year ago the industry was gearing up for the AWS auction. Bidding groups were being formed, alliances cast, strategies were developed, and money was being amassed. Heady times, untainted by the subsequent financial meltdown for which 2008 will long be infamous. These were the pre-crunch, do-you-remember-what-you-were-doing-before-the-collapse times. The last days of the epoch that changed it all, when dreams were still extant, where money, like honey, awaited those with a relatively aggressive business plan to tap into the appetite for all things wireless.
Much has transpired since those halcyon days of just a few months ago. The cold reality of financial armageddon has upset many a plan, humbled banks, capsized many corporate household names: the hubris of the past several years has resulted in the eclipse of many dreams. Freedom 55®, the London Life clarion call for the leisure-loving frugal over the last decade, has morphed to ‘Freedom 85.’ Ain’t no way that you can retire at 55 after your portfolio evaporated! Savings have gone, borrowing is problematic. At the corporate level, debt markets are closed, bankers tight-fisted and equity markets more expensive than ever before. Ratios be damned – need money? Can’t get there from here. But the bleak economic and financial picture is not totally pervasive. A glimmer, a spark of hope, remains.
We speak of the Canadian wireless dream. Happily, exceptionally, Canadian wireless seems exempt from the planetary catharsis. Funds are being raised, suppliers consulted, and staffing-up is underway.
This paper will look at recent announcements by two of the new entrants, Globalive and Public Mobile, and touch on our thoughts of anticipated announcements by DAVE and Videotron. We will also explore the implications of the February Public Mobile “first call” demonstration – we think the company’s G-Block bet was a coup.