Archive for September, 2010

Rogers turns 50 today and we’re celebrating with a contest!

Ted Rogers spins tunes at CHFIToday marks a major milestone for Rogers. On September 30, 1960, Ted Rogers purchased a fledgling FM radio station with an $85,000 loan. His vision and passion built a business that is now a national telecommunications and media powerhouse with the fastest and most reliable network, 53 radio stations, over-the-air and specialty television stations, a stable of magazines, and the country’s only Major League Baseball team, the Blue Jays.

Throughout these 50 years, Rogers has also been a company of many firsts. We were the first cable company in North America to launch commercial high-speed Internet service. We were also the first to launch HSPA+ wireless network technology in North America. Rogers also launched the first BlackBerry service in the world, and we were the first to bring Android phones and Wi-Fi + 3G netbooks to Canada.

We’re celebrating this milestone with a contest for our RedBoard readers: Just tell us in the comments section of this post, in 100 words or less, how technology has changed your life for the better and you could win a Wi-Fi + 3G 32GB iPad.

Good luck!

Stacey Fowler is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

Contest closes at 2:30 p.m. ET on October 1, 2010. Open to residents of Canada who are 18 years or older, excluding residents of Quebec. To enter, tell us in 100 words or less, on the RedBoard blog, how technology has changed your life for the better.  Prize: one (1) Wi-Fi + 3G 32GB iPad valued at $779 to be won. One entry/person. Odds of winning depend on the quality of the post and the number of eligible entries. Mathematical skill-testing question to be correctly answered to win. No Purchase Necessary. Full rules here.

Update (October 1, 3:48 p.m.): The entry period for our Rogers 50th Anniversary contest has closed – we had a blast reading how technology has changed your lives for the better in so many different ways. Well done!

We had to narrow it down to the top five entries, and the winner was chosen from that pool of five by random draw.

Here are the four runners-up who get an honourable mention:

Bhupinder
Technology has changed my life for the better in so many different ways. I thought I would express my love for technology in a poem. I hope you enjoy:

T ethering
E mail
so C ial Networking
H i Speed Internet
iPho N e
Rogers O n Demand
L CD TV
O nline
G oogle
Y fi (wifi)

That “Rogers On Demand” is a total life saver. I mean it…especially when 24 was on and you wanted to rewatch an episode…5 times!!!

Viva Technology!!!

Carlin
Without technology, I’d have to actually hand write this comment and mail it in… then I’d have to wait 6-8 weeks to see if I won or not. Technology is the best!

Gord Moore
I have 4 kids playing house league hockey and coach a couple of the teams. I use my Blackberry for everything from tracking ice times, checking web sites and sending out team e-mails in real time to calling my wife to find out what is happening at the rink I can’t get to. Having the technology to do everything at the rink gives me back time to spend with the kids.

Neil
When I was young, I had anger problems. My parents took me to tons of specialists and I ended up getting myself in a lot of trouble growing up. Eventually I ended up in a group home and one of the staff members there introduced me to computers. I immediately latched on. They gave me a focus. This focus grew and grew as more and more technology came out. I was able to change my life for the better and accomplish my Business degree and now I work around technology selling it and passing my passion and knowledge to others.

And here is our winning entry! (Jay, we will get in touch with you via email to arrange delivery):

Jay Sala
I remember when calendars where tethered to kitchen walls, contact information to little black books, and communications to paper, pen and telephones. I now carry all that (enhanced) functionality in my pocket and share it with the people I need to. Technology helps set me free.

Jay Sala is our Rogers 50th Anniversary Contest Winner

 

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Time to light up your BlackBerry Torch 9800 at Rogers

The new BlackBerry Torch 9800, one of the hottest smartphones to hit the market this year, is now available from Rogers. You can now pick up the device from Rogers.com or your local Rogers store for $199.99 with select three year term plans.

As the first carrier in the world to launch the BlackBerry smartphone, we are excited to add the Torch to our lineup. With our Handset Protection Guarantee and Canada’s reliable network, Rogers is the carrier of choice for the BlackBerry Torch.

For more details on the BlackBerry Torch, please visit Rogers.com. In case you missed it the first time, check out our demo video of the Torch with BlackBerry’s Director of Marketing, Michael McDowell.

Miranda MacDonald is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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Samsung Galaxy S Captivate Available from Rogers Mid October

Samsung Galaxy S CaptivateThe Samsung Galaxy S Captivate from Rogers will be available in-store and from Rogers.com mid October for as low as $149.99 with a three year term plan. As we mentioned in our update, we anticipated an earlier launch but there has been a manufacturing delay.

However, starting today, new customers will be able to preorder the device here. With your preorder, you’re also automatically entered into a draw to win an ultimate Samsung entertainment package including a:

  • 55” LED TV Series 9
  • Blu-ray Home Theatre System
  • Samsung NX10 Digital Camera

Existing customers can check their hardware upgrade eligibility and pricing in store as soon as the Captivate is available in mid-October.

And in case you missed it, you can find in depth device information, on our microsite here: www.rogers.com/captivate

UPDATE (October 14, 2010, 3:44 PM): Hi everyone. Just an update that we’re working towards launching the Samsung Captivate next week. We’ll update you on the date the Captivate is available.

Miranda MacDonald is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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From car phones to smartphones: Canadian wireless industry marks 25th anniversary

Cantel

George Fierheller, Cantel’s first CEO, in front of the company’s original headquarters in Toronto.

As summer officially winds down, it was 25 years ago this summer that Cantel (later known as Rogers Wireless) began offering cellular service in Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton and Oshawa – the foundation for what would soon become the world’s longest contiguous cellular network (Windsor through Quebec City) only a short time later, and the wireless network we know today.

Most of us can’t imagine a world without our cell phone. For many, it’s the first thing they check when they wake up and the last thing they look at before bed.

But it all began with just a few thousand subscribers back in 1985 using what was then a brand-new – and unproven – technology.

Bob Berner, Rogers Executive Vice President Network and Chief Technology Officer, joined Cantel as employee number 41 a few months before the Canada Day launch in 1985.

I sat down with him to look back at the historic event. Here are the highlights from our conversation.

Can you describe what it was like to work at Cantel in 1985 as the network was launching?
It was an exciting and risky proposition because nobody at that time had predicted the success of the industry. Everybody who came to the company in those days was taking a big risk. Cantel – which got its license in 1983 and started deploying networks in 1985 – had big aspirations and attracted people to the business who actually thought it there was huge potential for growth. From an employee standpoint, it was great fun. It was a young organization and people took the risk of coming here without knowing how it would turn out.

We never thought that Cantel would be as big as we became. We predicted that there were going to be 10,000-15,000 customers in the first year when the telephone companies were only predicting a couple of thousand. So we built our networks with much more capacity than the telephone companies. Immediately on launch, they had way more customers than they could handle and they had a terrible mess. Cantel was in a much better situation.

Looking back, we all like to poke fun at how large and clunky the phones were. I can’t seem to get Michael Douglas in Wall Street out of my head. What was your first phone like?
My first phone was a Mitsubishi car phone. It was on a cradle on the dashboard with the amplifier in the trunk and the antenna installed on the roof. Most phones we sold in the early days were car phones and had to be installed – they cost between $2,500 and $3,500 all in. There was also a bag phone version you could get, which was essentially a car phone in a satchel. Transportable phones soon became available – they were full-power, 3-Watt phones with a big battery and carrying handle attached – sort of like an army radio. The first handheld portable phone we sold was the Motorola 5000. That was an incredible piece of technology for the time and they sold for about $5,500 in Canada –that was real money back then! These phones now seem so large and clunky compared to what we are accustomed to today, but were they ever durable!

Who were the Cantel customers in 1985?
The earliest adopters are similar in any technology industry: they’re high income people who use the service as a convenience, plus forward-looking enterprise customers who believed that being connected will provide advantages in sales or operations over their competitors. Our first customers were leading-edge consumers ‘of means’ who were trend setters as well as forward-looking business customers.

What was the perception of the cell phone industry when it first launched? Were there concerns this thing wouldn’t catch on?
Well, it was initially broadly viewed as a niche business with limited growth potential. It was a whole new paradigm: paying per call. It was very uncertain whether very many people would pay per call in North America and pay a lot of money for their device. So if you take a look at what happened to really accelerate penetration in the marketplace, the industry began to subsidize handsets in order to reduce the price of entry, and to create price plans that had buckets of minutes to make the service cost more predictable.

What role did Ted Rogers play in the launch?
Ted was always the catalyst to pretty much everything. Big picture thinker, he was among the first to recognize the potential of wireless. And he always thought of the tactical stuff too. For example, he recognized that we should quickly build in the Muskoka cottage country north of Toronto. Everyone thought he was way out there, but he said: ‘Look, this is where the executives and the decision makers have their cottages. Those people are managers and executives and owners of companies, who will make business decisions based on how they perceive the value of the product. And if it works in the places they go, then they’ll want their people to use the service — because it’s all about mobility and coverage.’ Based on Ted’s long experience in Radio, he knew that to be successful, coverage and quality of signal were everything.

What has been the one striking change or thing that occurred over the past 25 years in the wireless industry?
The impact of digitization has been enormous. We wouldn’t have had the radio spectrum capacity to handle this number of customers in urban markets without digitization. Based on a country or a region, the frequencies may change but the fundamental technology becomes global in scale. That’s driven entire levels of economic growth just in creating the technology, let alone using the technology. It’s quite remarkable.

What was your first cell phone? Were you on the Cantel network back in 1985? Tell us your story.

Richard Bloom is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab coming to Canada in coming months

We’re thrilled to tell you that the Samsung Galaxy Tab – Samsung’s first tablet – will be coming to Canada on Rogers later this year.

As the Canadian carrier with the most tablet customers, we’re excited to carry the Samsung Galaxy Tab on Canada’s reliable network. Tablets are among today’s hottest devices – they let you connect with information, entertainment and other content in new ways – at home or on the go.

The Galaxy Tab joins our world-class lineup of mobile Internet and Android devices. It features a 7-inch display, Android OS 2.2, support for Flash Player 10.1 and a whole lot more.

It’s early days for this brand new device, so we don’t have any updates on pricing or availability yet. But as soon as we do, we’ll share them with you here.

In the meantime, you can read the full press release for more details.

Do you have a tablet or do you plan to get one soon? What do you think about the new Samsung Galaxy Tab?

Rob Manne is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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RedBoard video: The future of video entertainment

Not since the dawn of Television has the video entertainment industry been so exciting – both for you as a customer and those of us delivering the content.

We’re in the midst of a seismic shift in terms of how we watch content. Thanks to the rise of the PVR, on-demand programming, DVDs and online streaming, you now have the ability to view content on your schedule on a variety of different platforms, not just your TV.

We’ve been with you all the way through those changes: We were the first to bring video on demand to Canada; powered your ability to watch FIFA World Cup soccer across three screens this summer (whether you were in front of a TV, at work or on your smartphone); we have the most HD content available to watch on your flat-screen TV; and our retail stores have evolved to not only provide you with video rentals but the gear to watch entertainment at home and on the go.

Innovation is in our DNA – and it’s that passion for bringing new things to market that makes us so excited about what the future of video entertainment holds.

As part of our RedBoard video series, I spoke with Shelly Palmer — a TV veteran, industry strategist and author of the book Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV — about what’s in store for video entertainment. We discussed the changes happening in the industry, what you can expect in the future and what it all means for Canadians. You can read a transcription of our conversation here.

 

 
What’s your prediction for the future of video entertainment? How do you view content?

Miranda MacDonald is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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Rogers on Demand Online Rentals to launch next month

Rogers on Demand Online Rentals We have some exciting news to share today about our video-entertainment offering.

Next month, we’ll be launching Rogers On Demand Online Rentals, featuring the latest new-release hits from the biggest Hollywood studios, available to rent online the same day they are in store and on DVD.

The service will launch with hundreds of titles that are over and above Rogers On Demand Online’s current portfolio of more than 2,500 hours of prime time, sports and movies from more than 60 networks and content providers.

While we’ll have more to talk about soon, here are some highlights:

  • $4.99 new-release movies available for rent the same date they are available at the local video store and $3.99 library and catalogue titles.
  • You have 30 days from purchase to start watching your movie and a full 48 hours to view the movie once started.
  • The ability to stop the movie and resume watching from where you left off the next time you log in to Rogers On Demand Online within the 48-hour viewing window – so you can finish a flick on your lunch break the next day at work.
  • Streamed rentals directly from Rogers On Demand Online – no download required.
  • Social features to leave comments, rate movies, share with friends and create playlists

Meanwhile, we also unveiled some interesting survey results today about what you are looking for – and excited about – when it comes to the future of video entertainment. The online poll of more than 1,000 Canadians was conducted for us by Angus Reid

  • More than 60 per cent of Canadians report that when it comes to the future of entertainment experiences, they are most excited about the ability to watch their entertainment and movies on their own schedule.
  • More than 80 per cent agreed they want to be able to access the entertainment programming they have at home across multiple screens.
  • Nearly 60 per cent of 18-34 year-olds said they prefer to watch their entertainment on “My time” – what they want, when they want.

For more information on the new service, you can visit www.rogersondemand.com, its Facebook page or follow @RogersRODO on Twitter to get the latest updates and provide us with feedback on the service.

What are your thoughts on the new service? How have you changed the ways you enjoy video entertainment?

Richard Bloom is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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Sweet song o’mine: Rogers launches all new ringbacks platform

RingbacksThe first time I ever heard a ringback, I was very confused. I called a coworker and instead of hearing that familiar ringing sound, I heard a U2 song. I immediately hung up thinking I called the wrong number.

Ringbacks — the ability to set music to play when someone calls you instead of them hearing that boring “ring ring” sound – are a popular way to express your musical style.

If you’re a fan of ringbacks or interested in trying them out, we recently re-launched our ringbacks platform to include some new plans and features that make them easier than ever to use.

What’s new with ringbacks?

  • Super Shuffle – Now you can set your entire library of ringbacks to play at random every time someone calls. You can entertain your callers by choosing from thousands of hot new releases in categories such as Comedy, Sports, R&B, Rock and Hip Hop.
  • Play To All Callers – Really loving that new Lady Gaga song? This setting allows you to set your song-of-the-moment to play to all of your callers.
  • Voice Greeting – A three second voice greeting is now played before the ringback tone begins letting callers know they are about to hear a ringback (This would have been especially helpful for my first ringback experience!)
  • Block List – You  can now block callers from hearing your ringback by simply adding them to the block list – especially helpful if you don’t want to startle Grandma with the latest Eminem song when she calls
  • urMusic – ringbacks are integrated into urmusic.ca, making it a one-stop music shop.

How do I get them?

You can text “ringbacks” to 555. In seconds you’ll receive a text message containing a link to join. If you click the link, you can check out the plans and follow the steps to set it up.

You can also sign up on the web by going to www.urMusic.ca/ringbacks. Click on Membership Info, select your plan and follow the steps to set up your ringback.

How much are they?

There are two options: A $1 pack gets you the monthly ringback service and first tone free’ additional tones are $2 each. There is also a $3 bundle that gets you the ringback service and two tones every month (with this option, the first month is free). The cost is added to your voice plan. You can cancel your ringbacks membership at any time.

For more information on ringbacks, visit this site or check out the FAQs here.

Do you have a ringback?  If so, what’s your song of choice? What song would you set as your ringback?

Miranda MacDonald is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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RedBoard video: BlackBerry Torch 9800 available from Rogers September 24

As the first carrier to bring BlackBerry to Canada, we’re excited to tell you that the BlackBerry Torch 9800 will join Rogers’ lineup on September 24. The only smartphone to have a BlackBerry keyboard and full touch screen will be available for purchase in-store and on Rogers.com for as low as $199.99 on a three-year term.

As we approach the launch, you can stay on top of the latest updates by signing up at www.rogers.com/torch.

As part of our RedBoard video series, I talk to BlackBerry’s Director of Marketing, Michael McDowell about some of the new, cool features of the Torch, including a super fast new web browser, Social Feeds application, BlackBerry 6 operating system and Universal Search. (To read a transcription of the interview, click here).

What do you think of the Torch? Will you be picking up one on launch day?

UPDATE (September 23, 2010, 1:30 PM): We’ve been informed that the Canadian launch of the BlackBerry Torch 9800 has been changed to September 30. We’ll provide another update on RedBoard when the Torch is available.

UPDATE (September 29, 2010, 10:01 AM): The BlackBerry Torch 9800 can now be ordered at http://www.rogers.com/torch. This is for new customers only, while current customers looking to upgrade can check their hardware upgrade eligibility and pricing in store starting tomorrow, September 30.

Miranda MacDonald is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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