Global One sets up shop

In what could be construed as the corporate equivalent of posting an ‘Open For Business’ sign outside a storefront window, France Telecom (Telecom should have two accents on the ‘e’s) SA subsidiary Global One Communications Inc. officially announced its sales presence in Canada last month with a presentation on its new North American-wide fibre network.

Held in a restaurant close to its new Canadian headquarters in downtown Toronto, the Reston, Va.-based company’s launch party attracted a who’s who of the Canadian corporate world, including a company that at least one analyst believes will likely be one of Global One’s major wholesale customers.

“We think Telus (Communications) will start pushing their traffic towards Global One,” said Iain Grant, a telecommunications analyst with The Yankee Group in Canada in Brockville, Ont.

Vancouver’s Telus has made no secret of the fact it would like to increase its presence in Eastern Canada. The incumbent telecommunications carrier already dominates the market in Alberta and British Columbia.

“Those retail clients (in Eastern Canada) that Telus is going to secure are going to need…international connectivity,” said Grant. “Telus will then be presented with a couple of choices: do they hold their nose and give these clients to Bell? I think not. Or do they find a partner that can deliver that traffic to them, to Europe, to the Far East (and) to South America?”

Global One is currently in the process of building a 28,000-km transmission backbone network that will connect 28 major cities in Canada and the United States. The US$200 million network, which will be made up dark fibre leased from Level 3 Communications, will connect to France Telecom’s European network. All told, the company has a presence in 65 countries around the globe, with partnerships to extend services to even more, said Global One’s chief operating officer, Michel Huet.

Karl Weiss, Global One Canada’s president, said his company expects competition in Canada to come from, in order, MCI, UUNET and Teleglobe.

Grant said Weiss left out one important competitor.

“I would say AT&T is bigger than he thinks, and is certainly above UUNET,” he said.

He also pointed out that the market will soon be changing as Bell Canada begins to migrate most of its major accounts away from MCI, which it used for much of the ’90s, to Teleglobe Inc., a company that Bell’s parent company BCE Inc. purchased early last month.

Global One is not entirely new to the Canadian scene. Calgary’s Call-Net Enterprises Inc. has been offering Global One services for the past few years through its retail arm, Sprint Canada.

Both Sprint Corp. and German company Deutsche Telekom AG owned part of Global One until France Telecom bought their stakes earlier this year. However, contracts for the two companies to sell Global One services do not run out until 2002.

Global One Canada’s Weiss said Call-Net’s contract with Global One Communications Inc. is a separate and independent one from Global One Communications’ contract with Sprint Corp. He would not say when the contract runs out.

Global One Canada currently has points of presence and sales forces in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto. An office in Ottawa is expected to open in the first quarter of 2001.