Vancouver CLEC plans national roll out

Just when it seemed like the landscape for national telecommunications providers was becoming slightly more stable, along comes another competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) with Canada-wide ambitions.

The latest entrant into the national telco space is Group Telecom, a Vancouver-based outfit with existing operations in Vancouver and Calgary. The firm plans to add services in Toronto this month.

Like Norigen, which began operations in October, Group Telecom is going after the small- to medium-sized business market. Small- to medium-sized translates into customers requiring anywhere from five to 50 voice lines, said Daniel Milliard, Group Telecom’s CEO. Milliard said the company would also consider servicing larger customers, although such customers do not fall into Group Telecom’s core market.

Group Telecom will offer service bundles including a package of voice, data and Internet services over its own network. The firm also plans to act as an application service provider for customers who don’t want to buy or host their own applications. The only item currently missing from the company’s portfolio is wireless voice services.

Technology partners of Group Telecom include Cisco Systems Inc., Lucent Technologies Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. The telco is relying on right-of-way agreements with local utilities to roll out its metropolitan networks, which will include 12 Canadian cities. By 2001, Milliard said the company plans to have its metropolitan networks connected by cross-country fibre routes.

Jordan Worth, an analyst with IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, noted that Group Telecom has picked a good time to enter the market.

“Now’s a good time, because everyone’s about to go national,” he said.

While having solid telco gear and being facilities-based should help any CLEC’s financial health, Worth explained that small- to medium-sized businesses often don’t know or care much about the technology behind their service. Such customers really only care about whether their service works and what it costs.

“The differentiator for all these guys is going to be marketing,” Worth said.

In addition to Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, Group Telecom’s target markets include Edmonton, Victoria and Montreal, which will be added by March of 2000, and Winnipeg, Ottawa-Hull, Quebec City, Hamilton, London and Kitchener-Waterloo, which will be added by the end of 2000. Milliard said the company also plans to eventually roll out service in Atlantic Canada.

Group Telecom has been in business since 1996, when it began providing wholesale access to ISPs, long distance providers, telco resellers and IT integrators in Vancouver. The firm became a CLEC in 1998. This year Group Telecom added 2,500 customers to its portfolio when it acquired communications firms Single Source of Toronto and T1 Technologies Inc. of Calgary.

Group Telecom can be reached at or at 1-877-484-8181.