Mobile's New Players
You may not have heard a lot yet about Data & Audio Visual Enterprises Wireless Inc., or DAVE Wireless, yet, but you will.
The company has been working somewhat under the radar, getting all its ducks in a row, before a full-fledged commercial launch in early 2010.
“Sure, it would be nice to be first on the market as a new player, but we think it’s better to take our time so that when we do launch, we’ll be able to offer the full package: ‘value, simplicity and flexibility’ to customers across our network,” says Dave Dobbin, president. “In any case, I think there’s a place for everyone. A competitive market is a really good thing.
“And as far as ‘first on the market gets the largest market share’, I don’t believe that that’s necessarily true when it comes to mobile. We could perhaps launch earlier and give partial coverage if we wanted, but we feel it’s more important to offer full coverage at one time. That way we can offer a great customer experience. And customer satisfaction is what we want to offer. I believe that Canadian wireless satisfaction is low at this time.”
DAVE Wireless — or whatever name it chooses in a planned rebranding — picked up advanced wireless spectrum in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia in blocks that include 10 of the largest cities in Canada. In Ontario its network will stretch from Ottawa to Algonquin Park and Coburg to Windsor, including Toronto, and in the west, it will include such cities and regions as Calgary, Banff, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Victoria and the lower mainland of B.C..
DAVE is building from the ground up, dealing with real estate and equipment, looking for proposals for its network build, making roaming agreements, and even receiving pitches from advertising agencies. The week we interviewed Dobbin, DAVE’s management was hearing presentations from three agencies vying for its ad account to handle the rebranding and launch, and he had just signed a roaming agreement with T-Mobile USA Inc., enabling voice and data roaming for its future subscribers while travelling in the United States. (And vice-versa, of course.)
“This will allow us to deliver 3G voice and data services to our customers and will provide access to extensive wireless coverage throughout the U.S,” says Dobbin . “UMTS is considered to be the next generation of wireless technology and as we move forward with our launch, we will be looking to develop more diverse roaming partnerships to provide our customers with affordable access to voice and data wireless services outside our target markets and internationally.”
“The network technology strategy we adopted will not only allow us to provide our customers with the latest and most innovative handsets, but also offer the most technologically advanced wireless services.”
DAVE has put together a solid, experienced, all Canadian management team. Dobbin himself is former president of Toronto Hydro Telecom Inc. with prior senior experience with such firms as Cogeco Data Services, Hydro Telecom Ottawa and BDO, a telecommunication consulting business, among others — after beginning his career in Calgary selling cell phones at retail and becoming TELUS’ largest dealer. Sara Moore, vice-president marketing, held senior positions at Rogers Wireless, Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting and Yahoo! Canada. Sharyn Gravelle, vice-president network operations, gained senior experience with Microcell, Radian Communication Services and Toronto Hydro Telecom.
“We plan to offer a wide range of cell phones from basic to smart phones,” says Dobbin. “I don’t believe that you should use price to differentiate service, and we aren’t relying on price. As I mentioned, we will be marketing our value, simplicity and reliability. But right now, we’re concentrating on building.”
DAVE Wireless is a newly formed wireless entity owned by John Bitove through Obelysk Inc., a diversified Canadian holding company, and New York-based Quadrangle Capital Partners, a global investor in the telecommunications and media sectors with more than $6 billion of capital under management.