November 2013 in review: IBM Canada donates cloud to schools, BlackBerry overhauled again and Winnipeg expands Wi-Fi

No one wants BlackBerry.

That was the seemingly message when Fairfax Financial admitted it couldn’t find partners to take the Canadian smart phone maker private.

Instead, the largest investor in BlackBerry found organizations willing to throw it a $1 billion lifeline and a Silicon Valley veteran willing to take it over at a price — CEO Thorsten Heins.

So now BlackBerry’s fate lies on the shoulders of interim CEO and chairman John Chen.

The questions are many: Can the company’s revenues turn around? When? Can the number of subscribers increase? Can he get revenue out of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)? What happens if the stock price stabilizes?

With some $3 billion in cash on hand some think Chen has a year before the vultures come.

Also in November Ottawa finally approved the bidders for the start of the Jan. 14, 2014 700 MHz spectrum auction.

The good news for Bell, Rogers and Telus is they won’t be facing a well-financed opponent in the fight for the valuable frequencies. That the bad news for Ottawa, where some must be hoping for a repeat of the unexpected $4 billion haul it pulled in from the 2008 auction.

Elsewhere, one of the biggest public Wi-Fi projects in the country was announced when Winnipeg struck a $2 million deal with Manitoba Telecom Services to install 350 hotspots in public venues across the city.

This follows a deal the city already has to put Wi-Fi into parts of the city where Shaw Communications has a cable footprint.

IBM donated a private cloud to seven Nova Scotia post-secondary schools for analytics-related studies. The cloud will be shared to create new curriculum and conduct IT research.

Ottawa introduced new legislation to cut down on cyberbullying, but some fear parts of the law may be used to get the government’s lawful access to Internet service provider records without a warrant.

Huawei Technologies, criticized by some in Ottawa and Washington for allegedly being to close to the Chinese government, made it known that its Ottawa lab is working on the next generation of wireless data technology.

Finally, in a story that we’ll see crop up in 2014, an expert warned that the Internet’s current governance structure is threatened. Nominally in the hands of the U.S. government it cedes some authority to what most Western countries see as independent agencies. Other countries don’t see it that way, and the revelations of Edward Snowden won’t help.

Will room for foreign governments at the tables of the IEEE or the Internet Society have to be made?

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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