Canada to Get Apple’s iTV?

Canada’s Rogers Communications, one of Canada’s largest mobile, cable tv, and DSL providers and Bell Canada (BCE), the incumbent local exchange carrier for telephone and DSL Internet services in much of Canada, are in talks with Apple to become Canadian launch partners for its much-hyped Apple iTV, reports the Globe and Mail.

Apple’s television product remains cloaked in secrecy, but a rumored 42-inch “Apple HDTV” for $1,499 could effectively be a 42-inch iPad, with access to the App Store, media downloads through the iTunes Store, and iCloud integration.

“They’re looking for a partner. They’re looking for someone with wireless and broadband capabilities,” said one source who is familiar with the talks.

Apple’s iTV product reportedly integrates Siri, Apple’s voice-recognition software, into television sets to help viewers make programming choices.

Viewers can then control the TV by voice or hand gestures, all from the comfort of a couch. An on-screen keyboard, meanwhile, can also be activated in a similar manner, allowing viewers to surf the web, conduct video chats and use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook – all without any physical interface.

The move isn’t totally unprecedented, explains GigaOm. Dish Network was one of Google TV’s launch partners, and Verizon partnered with Microsoft to make its FiOS TV service accessible through the new Xbox Live.

Inukshuk Wireless is a joint venture of Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, created in 2005 to establish a Canada-wide network for wireless Internet connectivity in 45 major cities and more than 120 rural communities.

The Inukshuk network was built using pre-WiMAX technology. It holds 2.6 GHz licenses across Canada, in all provinces and territories except Manitoba and Saskatchewan including Saskatchewan.

Rogers recently announced it will discontinue its pre-WiMax service in March. Presumably, an LTE-A follow-on might be anticipated. Would “wireless cable” pencil out with the high data rates inherent in LTE-Advanced? Perhaps Apple will find out.

With downlink speeds four times faster than LTE (using 20 Mhz channels and 4×2 MIMO), each sector might deliver a dozen or more 10-24 Mbps streams. Satellite and phone companies might compete with cable operators, delivering both broadband and video entertainment for $50-$100/month.

With (4×4) MIMO and an aggregated 40 MHz channel, LTE-Advanced and WiMax 2.0 can both pump out more than 300 Mbps per sector (pdf). Will “wireless cable” be a last mile option – without the telephone or cable tax? Who knows.

AT&T’s Uverse charges $49/month for 24Mbps. Inukshuk, Dish and Clearwire might offer competitive speeds and prices in a year or two. Fiber to the tower is WAY cheaper than fiber to the home and enables mobile connectivity. Satellite TV wants in. So do platform providers like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon. Do the math.

Quants run the show. Who needs a cable network? Online ad spending grew 23% to $32.03 billion last year and is expected to double in 5 years.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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