December 14, 2004

Bell's Wireless Upgrade

Bell Mobility is jumping at the 3G bandwagon with a $150 million plans to upgrade its 1X wireless network to EVDO. Canada's second-largest wireless carrier has 21 EVDO sites up and running now, and hopes to roll out EVDO across the country by 2006.

Bell claims it will be offer regular speeds of 600 to 800kps, which is five to seven times faster than 1X. Bell has little choice but to spend aggressively if it wants to generate more revenue from data wireless services, which carry higher margins than voice.

Laugh if you want at ring tones, screen savers, games, etc. but that's where the real money in wireless will be found. Bell also plans to launch a push-to-talk product in the first quarter, which it says will "end the push to talk monopoly" enjoyed by Telus Corp.'s MIKE service.

Bell Mobility CEO Michael Neumann says Bell's push-to-talk service will lure MIKE users away from Telus with enhanced features, although he wouldn't spills the beans on what they might be. He also mentioned Bell has no plans in the short to medium term to expand its wholesale strategy, which will see Virgin come into the market early next year (maybe?) through a joint venture with Bell.

Speaking of the youth market, look for Bell to re-introduce its SOLO brand to go after the teen set. This begs the question why do a deal with Virgin if you have your own youth strategy?

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