Novus Wireless Inc., formed with the sole purpose of participating in the spectrum auction, has placed a $17.6-million deposit for 340 eligibility points. The company will focus in select markets in the greater Toronto and Vancouver areas in an effort to combat high data rates.
Novus Wireless is owned by 503161 British Columbia Ltd., which in turn is owned by real-estate magnate Terrence Hui. Hui is also owner of Vancouver-based Novus Entertainment Inc., a broadcast distribution undertaking formed in 1996 which offers digital cable television, high-speed Internet and digital phone services to residential and commercial customers in the metro Vancouver area. Novus Entertainment competes, albeit on a smaller scale, with Calgary-based Shaw Communications.
Hui is also principal of Concord Pacific Group Inc., a real-estate company developing two community projects: Concord Pacific Place in downtown Vancouver and Concord CityPlace in Toronto. Hui began the Vancouver development in 1996 and then wanted to offer cable services to his customers through Novus Entertainment but was challenged by Toronto-based Rogers Communication, then operating in Vancouver. Following a public hearing, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission granted Hui a licence to offer cablevision to Concord Pacific customers.
That licence was eventually extended beyond the development.
Hong Kong-born Hui, 44, was educated in North America and spent his entire career in real estate development. He received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal for outstanding commitment to building new and sustainable urban communities. Hui was appointed by the prime minister to represent Canada on the business advisory council of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) from 1996 to 1997.
Canquest Communications (Canada) Ltd., a Chatham, Ont.-based service provider that resells swipe calling cards, has put down $80,000 for two points in the wireless spectrum auctions, and the company has an uphill battle, according to an industry analyst.
“A lot of these smaller companies will find out this is a very expensive exercise,” said Eamon Hoey, senior partner of Toronto-based Hoey Associates, adding the bidding process puts smaller firms at a disadvantage. He speculated a company like Canquest would have to pay at least $500,000 just to get through the auction, but there’s no reason a small company can’t provide local cellular service.
“This wireless service is really a local service,” he said, adding licences are “well beyond the reach of smaller companies.” For its part, Canquest isn’t saying what services it plans to provide – or at what prices – if it wins any spectrum. The company’s owner, John Smith, asked IT World Canada to call back “in a couple of weeks” because the company has “not finalized everything.”
He added the company was incorporated in 1995 as a service bureau and its customers included Bell Canada and Wall-Mart.
Although Windsor-based SelectCore Ltd. announced last August it had bought a Chatham-based firm known as Canquest Communications (Wireless) Inc., Canquest Communications (Canada)’s submission to Industry Canada lists Smith as owner. SelectCore did not respond to a request for information from IT World Canada.
Canquest’s Web site doesn’t provide much information. It consists of one page with contact information, plus the message: “Please check back with us again soon, we are currently developing a image for our website.”
A cached version of Canquest’s home page has a bit more information and says the company has subscribed to the Card Swipe Access Service offered by a variety of incumbent carriers.
An octogenarian who owns a Montreal wireless reseller has decided to take on the large cellular carriers by building a national cellular network.
But Celluworld Inc. first needs a licence, so it has bid $480,000 for wireless spectrum, and Abraham Finkel, who has a 50 per cent stake in the business, is vowing to offer cheaper and more reliable service than the incumbents.
The other half of Celluworld is owned by Simon Neuhauser.
Finkel is currently chief executive officer of Montreal-based Celluland, which offers a variety of products, including PCS phones, pagers, satellite TV dishes and calling cards.
It has been in business since 1985, when Rogers first started offering wireless service under the Cantel brand and Bell Mobility rolled out its cellular network.
He would not go into detail on products and pricing but confirmed he would offer both voice and data services to consumers and businesses.
Finkel, who emigrated to Canada after surviving imprisonment in a German concentration camp, has worked with Rogers Communications in the past but the relationship turned sour. Despite this, he maintains a positive outlook.
“I’m still young. I’m still 80 years old,” he quipped.
His goal is now to compete with Rogers, and his company has 12 eligibility points in the wireless spectrum auction. This is considerably fewer than some of the other bidders, such as Bell Mobility, (which has 1,500 points), Rogers (which has bid $534.2 million for 4,030 pints) and MTS Allstream, which has 2,643 points from a bid it placed through 6934242 Canada Ltd.
But Finkel is confident he can compete with the large players.
“I believe that with hard work and I will make it,” Finkel said. “I will build it up. It will take time. If not my grandchildren can run it.”