Convergence et al

Sprint Canada’s entry into the local services market is another milestone in the continued opening up of the Canadian telecom industry.

Although Sprint’s local-access offerings are confined to the Calgary area for now, this is a significant move as regional telcos jockey for a position in the national market and long-distance providers make a leap into the local scene.

The brass ring for all of these players is to be able to offer customers a complete solution — local and long-distance voice, data and wireless services all bundled together.

With that end in mind, telcos across the country will begin to build next-generation infrastructures that will allow them to offer all of these services on one access line. In the meantime, they’ll have to continue resorting to bundling agreements to provide some semblance of one-stop telecom shopping.

Some of you may be thinking that converging a telco’s wireline networks doesn’t seem too hard, but how do the wireless services get tied in as well?

The answer may lie in an emerging wireless broadband technology that operates in the 24GHz and 38GHz radio spectrum. Later this year, a 24/38GHz auction is slated to take place in Canada.

And while some of the potential licensees may be new entrants to the telecom market, incumbent telcos are very likely to be among those bidding for licences.

In the United States, where 24/38GHz spectrum was auctioned off some time ago, telco start-up Teligent Inc. of Vienna, Va., is using 24GHz point-to-multipoint to provide small- to medium-sized business customers with flat-fee service for local and long-distance voice and Internet access — at 30 per cent less than whatever they pay currently.

You can be sure the incumbent players will want to be part of that action.

In future issues of Network World Canada, we’ll provide coverage of the 24/38GHz wireless market as it starts to unfold in Canada.