Get to Know Your Canadian Carriers

Since 2008’s Advanced Wireless Spectrum Auction there’s been a great deal of excitement about new carriers coming in to compete with Canada’s “Big Three” of Bell, Telus and Rogers. This is sure to open up new telecom expense management opportunities and might just lead to lower prices overall for Canadians. With lukewarm competition at best, the Canadian wireless industry inflicted some of the highest prices in the developed world for core services, offering little advantage between carriers beyond occasional coverage considerations.

Canadian Telecom Expense Management

Not all Canadian carriers are who they appear to be

If you’re a Canadian wireless user, you may be wondering why we’re only talking about a handful of companies. What about the discount providers and other brands you keep seeing on TV? Aren’t they competitors? Nope. Most of them are Big Three brands or resellers. Here’s how it breaks down.

Bell Mobility: In Canada, Virgin Mobile is a Bell brand, used under license. Solo and PC Mobile are both independent resellers operating on Bell’s network.

Telus: Koodo Mobile is Telus’ discount brand. Mike is a Telus brand that uses push to talk technology.

Rogers: Rogers resells to 7-Eleven, Petro-Canada and Sears. Its own discount brand is called Fido.

Bell, Telus and Rogers have designed their pricing to be comparable with each other (there is virtually no difference in pricing for similar data plans, for example) and to close loopholes that might be allowed if you purchased phone on one carrier brand and used it on another. Resellers must take their own costs into account with their rates, and the Big Three have managed to prevent deep discounts from that source.

Fortunately, careful telecom expense management can find the best plan for a company based on its desired handsets, services and location – specifics that vary enough to create savings compared to simple head to head comparisons.

But competition is coming. WIND Mobile and now Public Mobile have thrown down their gauntlets to compete, shunning the Big Three’s traditional contracts and rates, but they currently have small coverage areas outside of a few major cities. How do they compare?

WIND Mobile has a limited number of phones available because it uses the Advanced Wireless Spectrum, and its coverage is currently limited to the Greater Toronto Area along with the Ottawa and Calgary regions. It is expanding, however, and phones can be used in “away zones” covered by Rogers for additional fees. WIND offers unlimited data and other benefits, but these only provide real savings in coverage areas.

Public Mobile is focused on basic consumer phones – it’s not set up for business use. Its coverage includes Windsor, Toronto and Quebec City, with more additions on the way. Due to its basic, consumer focus, it probably isn’t the right choice for most businesses.

More carriers can only mean more choice, competition and savings in the Canadian market, so we welcome new players, even if we wouldn’t necessarily recommend them.

Telecom Expense Management vs. Telecom Audits: Tracking the Industry

Telecom Audits and Expense ManagementThrough Tele-Watch, GILL Technologies specializes in complete telecom expense management solutions. Telecom audits are part of the telecom expense management process, but many people think that’s the whole thing. An auditor looks through your bill, for errors and other issues, and gets them corrected. Simple! Unfortunately, while a pure telecom audit helps, it doesn’t get you the best cost reduction on wireless or other telecom billing.

"Telecom expense management means more than auditing phone bills"

One of the key differences you’ll find by opting for a 360 degree telecom expense management service such as Tele-Watch is its ability to take advantage of opportunities in an evolving telecommunications industry. The industry is constantly changing, and just looking at your bill, while helpful, won’t provide the best cost reduction opportunities. For example, while auditing your bill weeds out unneeded expenses based on contracts offered by your current carrier, but what if someone new comes in with a better deal? Canadian businesses are currently experiencing this in the wake of last year’s Canadian wireless spectrum auction. The old “big three” acquired as much spectrum as possible and swallowed other purchasers, but they couldn’t get everyone. That’s opened the door for new players such as WIND Mobile. Like many of the new wave of carriers, WIND is currently building its network from centers in Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa. Other new carriers are only now setting up their infrastructures, getting hardware and planning their pricing. In Canada, carriers have never been particularly competitive so there’s plenty of room for innovation and price slashing. Expect to see better pricing, more unlimited plans and better contract terms. These won’t just come from new players, either; established carriers will have to improve their contracts to match their competitors.

A telecom audit may ensure your billing improves by the standards of your current plan, but true telecom expense management tries to get you the best rates available in the entire industry. We do that by keeping abreast of the industry for new developments. When we spot these opportunities we can provide a range of options, or just automatically implement the most cost effective without changing your phone numbers of services. While your bill will be audited, we can also perform migrations between carriers and renegotiations so that your company can take advantages of the latest developments in the industry.

 

Why Offer a Communication Management Free Trial?

Why has a communications management firm that has offered telecom solutions for a decade decided to offer its proprietary management software on a free trial? It’s hard for me to write the answer without sounding like an advertisement, especially since as I write the reasons, it sounds like an ad to me – but that’s not the case. It all has to do with the evolving business climate in the US and Canada. We’ve adapted to it and want to help other firms do the same.

North American business has changed over the last year. At GILL Technologies, we’ve been very fortunate to have a loyal client base. Over the years, we’ve changed to respond to its requests for additional features and services and to keep GILL Technologies focused on best practices. In fact, what began as a cost audit company some 10 years ago has developed into much more. For example,  ClientCare (a component of our service) has become one of our most sought after services. Today, it’s one of the pillars of our business even though it really has little to do with the concept of cost auditing. By listening to our clients we discovered the value in being able to be their single point of contact for a technical support and services.

Tele-Watch evolved in much the same way. Companies need better control over their communications, period; most businesses will openly admit this. One crucial step to improve control is by acquiring timely, superior access to usage and spending information. This visibility gets crucial data to the right people in a timely fashion (not six months later). It drives accountability through the organization, because they know the nature of on what may be the largest business expense they face, as communications is quickly becoming one of the largest expenses possible for any company.

GILL Technologies responded with Tele-Watch: a proprietary software application hosted on the cloud and available from any web enabled device on a secure platform. Tele-Watch is absolutely amazing in how it presents important communications information. We developed it to let clients view their communications usage, expenses and services just the way they need to. Again, we improved a component of the service that really had little to do with the cost audit concept,  but again through our clients’ guidance we developed reporting tools that change the way a company manages communications.

So now, our challenge is to utilize what we created to grow our business. Bear in mind that our primary focus is to save companies money, however. We never want to lose sight of that mission. Tele-Watch is a software solution, but rather than take the typical approach of, “Let’s sell our software,” we made what I consider the bold statement of saying: “Lets give Tele-Watch to our prospective clients, let them feel the difference in single point of contact with ClientCare, and while this is occurring, show them how we can save them money. It’s a Win-Win-Win!”

OK, now I really sound like an advertisement! But when you think about our philosophy, it really makes sense beyond its raw promotional value. We save companies money. It’s our core mission. That’s why clients establish a relationship with us. Tele-Watch and ClientCare build relationships that last for years, if not indefinitely. So why not introduce people to the whole concept while we evaluate the benefit of the relationship in hard numbers?

That’s why we offer a Communication Management Free Trial, giving you the chance to sample our range of services as a prelude to securing long term savings and excellent service. I hope you can see beyond the sales pitch and appreciate the concept. I don’t know – did I fluff it up too much?

Like I said, North American business has changed, and you need the chance to make informed decisions, and today’s technology should allow it. Shouldn’t you able to test drive a service even at the enterprise level? What do you think?

Did You Get an Important Message From Rogers With Your Phone Bill?

It looks like recent activism about telecom fraud is having some effect. If you’re a Rogers telecom customer you probably got a letter entitled “An Important Message from Rogers” with your bill this month. Subtitled “Helping to protect your business from telecommunications fraud,” the letter certainly starts out on a positive note. We’re in the business of telecom expense management and cost reduction services, so the fraud issue – and resolving it so that our clients avoid paying fraudulent charges – is very important to us. Let’s see how Rogers is helping us. (Get the letter and read along if you have it!)

The first three paragraphs summarize the issue. Most cases of telecom fraud involve a third party breaching your phone system to use expensive, unauthorized services, such as offshore pay-per-call operations. They say the most effective defense is “knowledge.” The end user is responsible for monitoring authorization codes and “equipment.” (Why the quotes? Read on.) Rogers will “attempt” to monitor its network traffic.

What does Rogers recommend? The advice is superficially useful. Change your passwords. Educate your staff. Restrict long distance calling. That’s all good. If Rogers believes so strongly in this, why don’t they provide more secure default settings, or a setup checklist with a stronger security focus? Simply put: They have no economic motive to help. Thanks to a lack of regulation Rogers passes most fraud costs on to the consumer, so either way, the carrier gets paid. That’s what we wrote the CRTC about recently. See our CEO talk about the issue on video here (Youtube).

The letter really starts to get odd when it recommends that you “Monitor continuously” – something most end users cannot actually do in any meaningful sense. The average consumer learns about usage patterns through monthly billing. They have no form of real time or daily access to traffic or billing, so unless the fraud stretches across multiple months there is no way to detect activity at “the earliest stages,” as the letter puts it. Fraudsters who want to take you to the cleaners know they’ll get caught, so they often hit your lines for a brief, intense burst of billable activity before moving on.

Who can monitor usage patterns quickly enough to matter? If you answered “Rogers,” you’re correct – except that the letter takes pains to let you know that Rogers won’t commit to that – it will only “attempt” to monitor its network. Rogers also believes that your responsibility for “equipment” – hardware – includes all of the intangible information that passes through it. This is kind of like saying that when the phone rings, you pick it up and someone hits you with a harassing phone call, it’s your fault for picking up the phone.

In short, the letter has some good advice, some advice you probably can’t, and clarifies the ways in which Rogers won’t help you, making this a decidedly mixed communication from the Canadian telecom giant.

The truth is that once you’ve taken reasonable security precautions, there’s a point at which the provider should use best practices to maintain network security. The government should provide carriers with an incentive to do so and protect consumers, because end users are not “responsible” for fraud. Criminals are.

GILL Technologies Ready to Help Businesses Conform to New Ontario Cellular Laws

Telecom Consultants Ready after Bill 118 Makes Hands-Free Cell Phone Use Mandatory in Automobiles

Peterborough, ON, Canada: GILL Technologies (http://www.gill-technologies.com) announced that it has prepared the hardware and telecom expense management expertise to help businesses with mobile phone fleets conform to the Ontario Government’s Bill 118. The law makes it punishable by fine to hand operate cell phones and other electronic devices with screens while operating a motor vehicle. Hands free use is permitted however, which puts many businesses in the position of having to acquire headsets and voice activated functionality for employees who routinely communicate by cell phone while driving.

The Peterborough, Ontario and Tampa, Florida based telecommunications consulting company was prepared for the bill’s passage on April 22, 2009 before then, had already performed a preliminary analysis of how companies that needed to conform to the law would be affected. GILL Technologies predicts an upsurge in demand for Bluetooth headsets and rich voice activated features delivered through a combination of hardware and cellular services. Canada’s transition to 3G smartphones requires that voice activated features not only encompass traditional telephony, but the ability to browse email. The company has also made arrangements with select suppliers to provide Bluetooth headsets at a considerable cost savings.

“Corporate cellular customers outside of Ontario should understand that the growing trend to ban handheld use while driving is likely to affect them as well,” said GILL Technologies president George Gill. “We not only urge people with mobile fleets in Ontario to upgrade to hands free use, but advise that companies everywhere that expect communications on the road do the same. It’s not only forward looking, but safer – that’s why the law came into effect in the first place.”

Interested parties can request a free initial cost analysis from GILL Technologies by visiting http://www.gill-technologies.com, emailing info@gill-technologies.com or calling 877-507-6988 toll-free. GILL Technologies accepts clients from across Canada and the United States.

About GILL Technologies

Established in 2000, GILL Technologies provides a “Total Communication Solution” for businesses of all sizes. Clients range from small businesses simply looking to save on their communications costs to large enterprises that want comprehensive solutions. Over 3000 clients across North America bear witness to the effectiveness of GILL Technologies’ products and services.Find out more about GILL Technologies’ communications services through its no-risk, money saving Cost Auditing service at http://www.gill-technologies.com/CostAudit.php