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A wireless pop quiz

All right, already: Put down the golf clubs, or fishing rod, or beach towel, or whatever it is you've been playing with for the past couple of months. The autumn is upon us and it is time to head back to school, figuratively at least, with the...


September 1, 2010  


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All right, already: Put down the golf clubs, or fishing rod, or beach towel, or whatever it is you’ve been playing with for the past couple of months. The autumn is upon us and it is time to head back to school, figuratively at least, with the 2010 Wireless Pop Quiz (which I find especially appropriate given that as I write this, the headlines are full of the fate of StatsCan’s long-form census).

Grab a pencil (remember those?) and circle your answers*.

1. How many text messages did Canadians send in 2009? a) What’s a text message? b) 2.5 billion c) 20.8 billion d) 35.2 billion

2. How many licensed wireless operators are there in Canada? a) What’s a licensed operator? b) 3 c) 57 d) 26

3. How much value does the wireless industry contribute to the Canadian economy? a) Econo-what? b) $8.8 billion c) $39 billion d) $16.3 billion.

4. How many jobs does the Canadian wireless sector support, directly and indirectly? a) This “job” thing… b) 293,000-410,000 c) 75,000-152,000 d) 526,000-1.2m

5. How much, per year, has the Canadian wireless industry invested in capitalized equipment and services (1996-2008)? a) Capitalized what? b) $500-$650million c) $750 million-$1 billion d) $1.1 billon-$1.9 billion.

The answers:

1-d: 2-c: 3-c: 4-b: 5-d. The answers, and many more, can be found in the industry facts and figures section of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association Web site (www.cwta.ca). If you have not looked lately, do so. In particular, check out the presentation done for CWTA by Ovum and published earlier this year.

As anybody who interprets statistics for a living will tell you, it is not the single number snapshots that I’ve provided here that are most interesting. Rather, it is the changes in these figures over time.

And reviewing those shows that the industry is mature, but still growing at an impressive rate — especially given the economic hiccup that’s been badgering other sectors over the past couple of years.

New wireless devices, new applications, and a better understanding of their benefits, on the part of both individuals and corporations, are contributing to this growth.

Meanwhile, after years of concentrating on high-value users of voice and data services, we’re now seeing more devices, plans and services in the market that target the basic-needs wireless customer.

For this, Canadians can thank the new wireless entrants such as Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity, which are not only introducing such plans themselves, but are also forcing the established carriers to follow suit to secure their current customer bases.

And let’s not forget this year’s introduction of Apple’s iPad and the fairly aggressive moves by Amazon to position its Kindle as the mobile electronic reading device of choice.

Many people are finding a use for one of these devices. Some are using both, finding each has its strengths. The coming holiday sales period will put a lot more of these devices into Canadian hands and laps, and there’s no question that more and more of them will be showing up at the office.

How companies integrate such devices into their operations remains to be seen. Are they useful for distributing training manuals and field service guides?

Will they become the sales force’s best friend at meetings with prospective customers? Will they enable executives to boost their responsiveness to the demands of their team members?

Having developed mobile applications to connect with a company’s customers, will IT departments create similar applications to connect with the company’s employees?

Add it up, and it is apparent that these are exciting times for the Canadian wireless industry and its customers. A lot is happening, and keeping current will be vital if you want to take advantage of this.

So what are you doing about upgrading your wireless knowledge?

*Note: If you’re reading this column on a computer, smart phone, iPad or other mobile Internet device, do NOT circle the answers. CNS

Trevor Marshall is a Toronto-based reporter, writer and observer of the Canadian wireless industry. He can be reached (on his mobile) at 416-878-7730 or trevor@wordstm.com