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Globalive to take on Rogers, Bell and Telus using smartphones as a weapon

As Globalive prepares to launch its Wind Mobile cellphone business in the coming days, it will use smartphones as one of its weapons to take on national players Rogers, Bell and Telus.

MONTREAL - As Globalive prepares to launch its Wind Mobile cellphone business in the coming days, it will use smartphones as one of its weapons to take on national players Rogers, Bell and Telus.

It will launch first in Toronto and Calgary and later in Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver with the goal of having a presence across Canada except Quebec.

It won't have Apple's much-desired iPhone like Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Bell (TSX: BCE) and Telus (TSX:T), but Wind Mobile will take advantage of the consumer trend toward high-performing phones in its choices.

"They tend to be smartphones because that's the way people use phones today," Wind Mobile CEO Ken Campbell says.

Wind Mobile will have BlackBerry, HTC and Samsung devices.

And the Toronto-based company will also have an advanced wireless network, to provide speedy downloads of music, quick Internet surfing and video streaming on the latest smartphones.

"The objective is to have quite a few Wind mobiles under the Christmas tree," Campbell said.

Wind Mobile was given the go-ahead to enter the cellphone market on Friday after Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned a CRTC decision that ruled the company wasn't Canadian owned or controlled.

Globalive chairman Anthony Lacavera said the company is looking for four million to six million subscribers within six years, which means it will have to steal them away from the established players as well as beat out the other new players coming to the market.

"We're truly prepared to effectively compete for the long term," Lacavera said.

"This is not something where we expect people to switch rapidly and we get bought out potentially. For us we're building a long-term relationship with Canadians. It's not a quick hit for us."

Other new competitors entering Canada's cellphone industry are DAVE Wireless, to launch in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, and Public Mobile.

Public Mobile will offer services in Ontario and Quebec. Quebecor's Videotron (TSX:QBR.B) will light up its network later in 2010 with service in Quebec and parts of eastern Ontario.

However, Deloitte Canada analyst Duncan Stewart said Globalive is probably the competitor that Rogers, Bell and Telus fear the most.

Stewart said consumers could see significant price cuts as a result of the increased competition, but he noted that globally there are few very markets where there are more than three national players.

"Nobody says you can't have four, or 24 national carriers, but you don't tend to have them for a very long time," said Stewart, director of technology, media and telecommunications.

"But if Bell and Telus merge, which has been rumoured, then Globalive might legitimately be that third national carrier," he said.

Campbell said Wind Mobile has looked at the way customers buy the phones, get them activated and the way they get billed.

It should be as "pleasant" as possible," he said.

Lacavera founded Globalive when he was 24 and has been in the telecom business for 11 years. His long-distance business Yak is probably best known to Canadians and has more than one million customers.

He ended up with Orascom as an investor through a friend who had worked for the company in Egypt and financing was put together to enter Industry Canada's auction for radio waves in May 2008 to increase the number of cellphone companies.

Globalive is 65 per cent owned by Orascom and the rest by Lacavera.

The CRTC had ruled that Orascom controlled too much of the company including its debt. However, Industry Canada had already accepted parent company Globalive's structure when it granted its operating licence last March.

 
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