Telus deal a positive sign for more choice

It’s usually tough to get excited about vendors announcing contract wins. After all, when an enterprise puts part of its IT infrastructure out to tender, someone is bound to win and someone is bound to lose. In the case of the Ontario government recently awarding a five-year, $140-million contract to Telus for network services in 1,500 offices across Canada though, there’s cause for spirits to rise.

Despite the 1999 breakup of the Stentor alliance, which saw Canada’s incumbent local telcos team together on standardization and lobbying efforts, the West has generally belonged to Telus and the East to Bell. Bell has offered competing telco services in Telus’ territory for several years, and Telus has done likewise in Bell’s back yard, but until now the only major public wins by one telco in the other’s territory were Bell’s contract to handle the 2010 Winter Olympics and Bell’s involvement in building out Alberta’s SuperNet.

Of the three big public wins, the Ontario government contract is the one that most resembles an enterprise services contract. It illustrates that Telus is serious about competing in Bell’s traditional territory and has the network resources and personnel to go head-to-head with Bell. Telus now has 5,200 workers in Ontario and since 2000 has invested approximately $7.5 billion in the province.

While the Ontario win is certainly good news for Telus, it’s even better news for the province’s businesses. It shows they have options when seeking network service providers who can offer complex connectivity and security. Telus’ security services helped win the Ontario contract – something that has to be encouraging to increasingly security-conscious enterprises. While competition is alive and well in the telecom services market, the network infrastructure market is a different story altogether. Telus’ infrastructure partner in the Ontario contract is Cisco and the odds are Cisco would have emerged a winner no matter which provider won the bid. Canadian businesses can only hope another vendor emerges to challenge Cisco and offer even more options when outsourcing network contracts.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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