Globalive Wireless goes live

Globalive Wireless Management Corp.’s Wind Mobile cellular service opened for business Wednesday in Toronto, offering four wireless handsets plus a USB wireless data stick for laptops, with unlimited data plans and voice plans starting at $15 a month.

Although the plans target the consumer market, Globalive chairman Anthony Lacavera said Wednesday his firm has about 5,000 business customers using a hosted voice and data plan – dubbed OneConnect – that have been asking when they can get wireless services.

The business market “is a tough nut to crack,” said Lawrence Surtees, research vice-president for IDC Canada. But with wireless carriers – including Globalive – building High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) networks, companies are starting to integrate wireless with their IT services.

Surtees said Wind Mobile’s data plans – which will slow or throttle customers’ data service if they download 5 Gigabytes or more in a month – is reasonable. Wind Mobile is a brand used by a subsidiary of Globalive’s Egyptian partner – Orascom Telecom Holding SAE- in Italy and Greece.

Fewer than four per cent of users would download 5 GB or more in a month, and those who do are likely “serious porn surfers” or constantly watching videos using their cellular device, Surtees said.

Lacavera launched Globalive’s HSPA network at a news conference at Toronto’s Queen’s Quay Terminal Wednesday, and said it is currently testing a roaming arrangement with another carrier.

As of Wednesday, Globalive’s “home zone” includes the city of Toronto, most of Hamilton and parts of Peel, York and Durham Regions. It does not extend as far north as Aurora. The carrier plans to launch in Calgary Friday.

Wind Mobile’s Chat voice plan costs $15 a month, includes 100 minutes of calls in the home zone and 50 outgoing text messages. Users making or receiving calls when outside the home zone pay 25 cents a minute.

Each additional text message sent costs 10 cents, though incoming text messages are free.

Post-paid and prepaid plans cost the same with Wind Mobile.

“We like all customers that pay us,” said Chris Robbins, Globalive’s chief customer officer.

Data plans range in price from the $10 consumer plan for BlackBerries, which has unlimited instant messaging, Facebook and MySpace, to $55 a month for mobile devices using the E181 universal serial bus (USB) data stick from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. of Shenzhen, China. Wind Mobile is selling that data stick for $150.

Wind Mobile also offers Research in Motion Inc.’s BlackBerry Bold 7700 for $450. Telus Corp. charges $649.99 for the same device, unless customers are willing to sign a contract.

Globalive doesn’t lock customers into any contracts and does not charge fees for activation, system access or 911.

The other handsets now available from Wind Mobile are: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Gravity 2 for $150; HTC Corp.’s Maple for $300; and Huawei’s U7519 for $130.

The least expensive handset available from Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) Inc., without a contract, is the Samsung M230, which costs $99.95. The  M230 has a reputation for durability. Network World Canada inadvertently tested the M230 for water resistance earlier this year when it fell off the editor’s belt and into the toilet but kept working.The least expensive handset available to Rogers Communications Inc. wireless users with no contract is the Sony Ericsson w350a, which is $174.99.

Rogers’ voice plans start at $30 a month for 100 minutes, plus a Government Regulatory Recovery Fee of 2.46 to 3.46 per month, depending on the province.

Bell Mobility offers a plan for $30 per month for 100 local minutes, 1,000 sent and unlimited received text messages, plus unlimited nights (8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.)  and weekends, which run from 8:00 p.m. Fridays until 7:00 a.m. Mondays.

Telus Corp. offers “up to” 100 local minutes for $30 per month. That plan gives users a choice of 1,000 outgoing text messages in Canada and unlimited incoming text messages.

Wind Mobile’s voice plans include Always Talk for $35 a month, which includes unlimited minutes for calls from the Wind Mobile home zone to anywhere else in the province. The Always Shout plan, which costs $45 a month, gives users unlimited minutes from their home zone to anywhere in Canada, plus unlimited outgoing text messages.

“This is the first one in Canada that’s truly all you can eat,” Surtees said.

Another Toronto-based industry analyst, Michelle Warren, predicts the Always Shout plan will be the most popular.

“It sounds as if you’re getting more bang for your buck for $45 here,” said Warren, president of MW Research and Consulting.

She added the Chat plan, which costs $15 a month, will appeal more to “people who keep the phone in the glove compartment in case of emergencies.”

The launch of Globalive Wireless, which bought spectrum in 2008, was delayed this year because the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled the firm did not meet the foreign ownership rules of the Telecommunications Act.

Although Lacavera, a Canadian, owns 80 per cent of the voting shares, Orascom holds 65 per cent of non-voting equity and nearly all the company’s debt.

The CRTC’s decision was overturned last week by Cabinet. Globalive plans to add coverage to Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver early next year. “We plan to cover all the other provinces in a couple of years,” CEO Ken Campbell said.

Two other new entrants, Data and Audio-visual Enterprises (DAVE) Wireless Inc. and Public Mobile, plan to launch service next year.

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