Business wireless service from Allstream by year-end

Manitoba’s phone company will increase its reach into business and government across the country from its home province this year with new wireless and wired broadband services.

MTS Allstream Inc. says that “towards the end of 2010” it will launch an Allstream-branded converged wireless / wireline suite of products to customers of its enterprise services.

Meanwhuile last month the telco and Radiant Communications Corp. a Vancouver-based broadband provider said they are teaming up to create what they say is a new types of high speed service for businesses who want to move up from T1 and ADSL connections to fibre-type speeds.

The wireless offerings will be the initial fruits of a partnership with Rogers Communications Inc. Rogers is building a new wireless HSPA network in Manitoba which the two carriers will share. In exchange, Allstream gets to use Rogers’ HSPA network outside the province to sell access to organizations.

“For us, that was only an entry point,” Allstream president Dean Prevost, who is responsible for business products to enterprise, medium and small organizations.

“What we have been working on and will launch later this year is something that takes us beyond basic voice and data and into the real integration between the wired and wireless space.

Already a provider of unified communications around telephony platforms from Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc., Allstream will sell solutions that can take advantage of their voice and data links.

“We see applications at the fixed-mobile converged layer,” said Prevost, “applications that augment our wireline connectivity portfolio as access options.”

“There’s lots of applications that integrate your handset into your telephony system,” he said, starting with simple ones such as incoming calls that simultaneously ring on an office phone and cellular handset, shared voice-mail and presence and going up to dual or tri-mode phones that work run on a Wi-Fi, UMA or DECT-based local area network in the office but automatically switch to a cellular network.

As part of the package there will be tools for telecommunications and IT managers to oversee spending by individuals or by groups. Some of these tools will be free with the basic service, while others with more features will cost extra.

Among the advantages Allstream gained by partnering with Rogers is saving a lot of money: It estimates it will spend $25 million over three years on its share of the new HSPA network in its home province. By comparison, it might have spent tens of millions to build a new national network.

HSPA is a so-called 3.5G wireless data technology that offers speed significantly faster than older networks. Right now, Rogers’ HSPA+ network promises maximum download speeds of up to 21 Megabits per second under ideal conditions. That compares to the maximum 3.5 Mbps MTS Allstream users would get on its CDMA network within the province. HSPA can at least double that 21 Mbps speed, say equipment manufactures.

Prevost didn’t have details of the offerings or prices. That made it difficult for industry analyst Jayanth Angl of London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research to comment on the opportunities.

However, he did say that an increasing number of Canadian organizations are interested in fixed-mobile telephony.

Initially, the new Allstream wireless service will be offered in Ontario to the company’s enterprise customers. Prevost said these include banks, insurance companies and retail chains.

He also engaged in little corporate touting. “Because we’re starting from scratch, we think we can re-invent [telephony] a little bit, or take the basic building blocks and doe something very different than anyone else does.” Other wireless providers in Ontario, particularly incumbent telco BCE Inc.s’ Bell Canada, offer telephony services. But Prevost said these operators focus on the consumer space.

A Bell spokesman said the company had no comment on the coming Allstream offering.

As for the Allstream-Radiant deal, the companies said broadband service was to start last month in Toronto and Vancouver, and extend across the country as the year goes on.

The deal “substantially extends our broadband network footprint,” Prevost said,” allowing organizations that need high bandwidth to be delivered in “an economical fashion.”


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