Canada - It's Different Here

When it comes to communications, it's not better or worse here - it's just different. A couple of quick thumbnails from this week to show you what I mean...

- Rogers Wireless - a customer recently was dinged with a $12,000+ bill. Turns out her number was hijacked and used by terrorists. Rogers picked the wrong customer to piss off, and she really rained all over them when they insisted she pay. After some expert digging it turns out that Ted Rogers himself was victimized in exactly the same why, which really makes you wonder who's smarter - the terrorists our the guys running our telco networks. In light of this embarrassing expose, Mr. Rogers had no choice but to drop the charges, so to speak. There's more to the story than this, but it's a great test case for the security crowd who have been forecasting all kinds of disaster scenarios, especially with IP.

- Telus - got into trouble for not turning over cell phone records to the RCMP during an investigation to track down a serial killer. It doesn't really look like Telus was being uncooperative - more likely this was just poor communication and execution. Still, these kinds of things shouldn't be happening with big telcos, and it can only strengthen the case with the regulators (the CRTC) who will want more access to information as the needs of law enforcement and legal intercept begin to infringe on the freedoms we've come to enjoy with IP. This here is not an IP story, but it's an unfortunate reminder that telcos cannot operate in a total vacuum, and when the law calls, you need to be both willing and able to comply.

- Satellite radio - also not an IP play. Am sure you've noticed that I just can't leave this topic alone. Canada is just getting started in this arena, and a very interesting issue has come up already that shows how fragile this business can be. Everybody knows that Sirius is banking heavily on Howard Stern's crass star power to drive them to big numbers, and in the U.S. he's probably delivering pretty well. Howard went there for freedom of speech, his favorite soapbox. Howard Stern was carried on Canadian airwaves for a while and has his loyal following here, but they all dropped him eventually - just too controversial. Turns out that Sirius Canada is not including Stern in their offering! They want to get off on the right foot, and the CRTC still controls their license, so they're going to play it safe. So, if you have to have your Howard in Canada, you either go to where you've been going recently - the gray market - or you somehow subsribe to Sirius U.S. Only in Canada! Not only does Sirius Canada have to compete against 2 other local satellite radio players - and build the market from scratch, but they also have to compete against their parent company for subscribers who are arguably the most loyal and willing to spend money on the service. This is not an easy gig. As I said earlier, it's not better or worse in Canada - just different!