A few months ago, David Dobbin was CEO of Toronto Hydro Telecom, themodestly-sized network and wireless data services arm of the Torontopower utility. Then in July, the unit was bought by Cogeco Cable for$200 million and Dobbin became head of Cogeco Data Systems. But lastweek Cogeco announced Dobbin has left “to pursue new career goals witha new telecommunications start up.” That startup is unnamed in thepress release, but rumours in the telecom industry have him going toJohn Bitove’s Data and Audio-Visual Entertainment (DAVE), one of thewinners of spectrum in the recent AWS auction.
Wetried to reach Dobbin today, but through a Cogeco spokesman he said hewon’t comment until he moves into his new seat next month. Nor wasthere a peep from the office of Bitove, whose group paid just over$243 million for 10 licences in the auction.
Let’s pretend therumour is true. If so, when officially announced in December it will bethe first public move DAVE has made since the company announced lastspring it would be part of the auction. Of the new spectrum holders,Globalive Communications chief Anthony Lacavera and Quebecor supremoPierre Karl Péladeau have captured most of the headlines. BMVHoldings only emerged last week. Meanwhile Calgary’s ShawCommunications has decided to wait a year. Other than DAVE, the onlyother major licence holder yet to publicly state its intentions isHalifax-based Bragg Communications.
DAVE was thought to havedeep pockets because one of the partners was former Microsoftco-founder Paul Allen. However, according to a news report Allen haspulled out. Its 10Mhz spectrum covers Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary,Edmonton, southern and eastern Ontario — but not Montreal.
Dobbinand Bitove would be a good fit, said Michael Rozender, an Oakville,Ont. consultant to organizations and governments on wirelessstrategies. “Dave is a true visionary when it comes to many aspects ofadvanced technology and next generation networks,” Rozender said, whileBitove, whose companies own several restaurant chains as well as the XMCanada satellite radio franchise, is “fearless.”
Dobbin came toToronto Hydro Telecom from Telecom Ottawa, also part of a city-ownedhydro utility, in 2005. At the time THT just ran the fibre assets,according to Rozender. Dobbin “turned that into a whole business basedon a wide range of value-added services.” That included moving intodata cente hosting and, as he did in the rational capital, adding apublic WiFi network to the division’s offerings.
“The grid hemade in downtown Ottawa was quite exceptional and it’s exciting thathe’s moved to Toronto,” a SeaBoard Group analyst told Network WorldCanada at the time of his appointment three years ago . “He reallythinks big and is quite capable of doing big things.”
Ian Collins, Cogeco Data’s VP of operations, has been appointed acting president of Cogeco Data Services.