|This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2012)|
|Founded||Vaughan, Ontario (2009)|
|Key people||John Bitove - Founder and Executive Chairman|
|Products||BlackBerry Smartphones, Wireless Data Services, SMS, MMS, HSPA (including HSPA+)|
Mobilicity (legal entity name Data & Audio Visual Enterprises Wireless, often abbreviated to DAVE Wireless) is a Canadian wireless telecommunications provider. Its name is a portmanteau of the words "mobility" and "simplicity". The carrier had over 250,000 Mobilicity subscriptions on May 16, 2013, the day in which Telus announced its (later terminated) agreement to acquire Mobilicity. The subscription count sank to approximately 180,000 by September 4, 2013.
- 1 History
- 1.1 2008-2009: Early years
- 1.2 2010: Launch and competition
- 1.3 2011: Calgary, discounted hardware and service, Dobbin resigns
- 1.4 2012: Redesigned website, products and service updates
- 1.5 2013-present: Financial restructuring, acquisition deals
- 2 Network
- 3 Products
- 4 Services
- 5 Criticism
- 6 Philanthropy
- 7 Advertising
- 8 Retail presence
- 9 Gallery
- 10 References
- 11 External links
2008-2009: Early years
Originally formed as DAVE Wireless by Canadian businessman John Bitove, the company entered the 2008 spectrum auction for AWS frequencies. DAVE spent $243 million on 10 MHz of AWS spectrum blocks largely covering southern and eastern Ontario, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. The domain davewireless.com was registered on July 10, 2008 via Go Daddy. Later, on October 27, 2009, the domain mobilicity.ca was registered via Internic.ca and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA).
Dave Dobbin, who had previously held executive posts at other telecom firms (COO of Telecom Ottawa, President of Toronto Hydro Telecom, President of Cogeco Data Services), was named President and CEO.
2010: Launch and competition
DAVE Wireless's website was launched with information on January 7. The following month, on February 2, it was confirmed that the company would operate under the name Mobilicity. The company was built to deliver Canadians a simple mobile solution. Later, service was launched to the public on May 15, but only for the city of Toronto. On November 17, service was launched in Edmonton and Vancouver, and in the Ottawa and Gatineau area the following day. Coverage in Calgary went live on April 28, 2011. The company currently has no spectrum access within the province of Quebec, with the exception of Gatineau, where reception is similar to Ottawa.
2011: Calgary, discounted hardware and service, Dobbin resigns
During Q4 2011, Mobilicity had a 50% off sale for all of its monthly plans. The discount could be used for up to twelve months with pre-authorized payments, or up to six months with other payment methods. The Mobile Syrup blog reacted to this sale by reporting that "Mobilicity has gone crazy."
Dave Dobbin, the founding President and CEO of Mobilicity, resigned in November 2011. Stewart Lyons (formerly Executive Vice President of XM Satellite Radio Canada) replaced Dobbin as President but the CEO position has been left vacant. John Bitove assumed the role of Executive Chairman. Mobilicity ended the year with approximately 206,500 subscribers, of which 113,000 (54%) who activated during Q4 of either 2010 or 2011
2012: Redesigned website, products and service updates
Little happened at Mobilicity during the first quarter of 2012. The carrier launched the Galaxy Nexus on February 2, 2012, one day before competitor Wind Mobile launched the same phone.
At the beginning of Q2 2012 on April 1, Mobilicity changed its plans and website. The $25/month plan now includes province-wide long distance plus the call waiting, call forwarding and conference call features. The $35, $45 and $55 plans now include voicemail, global SMS, Canada-wide long distance, site-limited or unlimited mobile broadband and 15 to 60 North American roaming minutes included. In April, Lyons confirmed that Mobilicity will be adding a Windows Phone device. The following month, the carrier announced that Nokia Lumia 710 would be "coming soon". It launched on May 17, 2012 along with a 50% off sale for any regular plan activated on any device. The service discount could be obtained during the next three days, and while it was similar to the Q4 2011 offer, it now required automatic credit or debit card payments. Mobilicity launched the BlackBerry Curve 9320 on June 6, 2012 and the Samsung Galaxy S III on June 27, 2012.
For the back-to-school season, Mobilicity added unlimited mobile broadband to its low-end $25 plan while discounting its higher-end $45 plan. It also discounted several phones, notably selling the Galaxy Nexus for as low as $300 instead of its $600 launch price. These promotions are advertised by various means, such as public transit and free circulation newspapers. Mobilicity published its Mobile Student Survey 2.0 results to demonstrate that Canadian students enjoy using their smartphones to help their studies as long as it is affordable. The carrier also extended its retail presence to Loblaw Companies stores in markets where Mobilicity coverage exists. Unlike their ill-fated partnership with Metro, the partnership with Loblaw involves displaying Mobilicity phones at numerous The Mobile Shop kiosks in the section formerly occupied by Wind Mobile. By the end of Q3 2011, the Nokia 500 and Lumia 710 were discontinued. During the final two weeks of Q3 2012, Mobilicity offered a 50% off monthly plans sale for the third time. The discount only applied for six months with automatic payments.
Multi-month discounts for 24 months (equivalent to two years) were added at the beginning of Q4 2012. They offer a slightly larger discount compared to the 12 month discounts. The operator launched faster mobile broadband plans with a maximum 21.1 Mbit/s theoretical download speed on October 30, 2012. However, a premium price must be paid for those wanting this service (see this article's Mobile Internet section). Mobilicity published a mobile broadband fair use policy on October 19, 2012. Another 50% off sale for monthly plans started on November 1, 2012. The discount was valid for six consecutive months on lower-priced plans, and twelve months for higher-priced plans. While Mobilicity initially marked November 13, 2012 as the final date for the sale, the company extended the deal throughout the months of November and December. Currently, this is the fourth such sale from Mobilicity.
2013-present: Financial restructuring, acquisition deals
On February 12, 2013, Mobilicity announced a new multi-stage financing deal worth $75 million. Of this sum, $15 million has already been provided to Mobilicity. Catalyst Capital Group, however, opened a file at an Ontario court in an attempt to halt this deal.
On April 10, 2013, Mobilicity announced that it would withdraw from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. Competitors Public Mobile and Wind Mobile also withdrew from the CWTA, citing "bias in favour of Rogers, Bell and TELUS" as the main factor. On April 26, 2013, an order was issued by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice allowing Mobilicity to attempt restructuring. The court order allows Mobilicity to ask creditors to vote on business sale and restructuring plans which contain actions that are intended to help the company raise additional capital and pursue other strategic options.
Mobilicity announced on July 10, 2013 that the company is "in discussions with multiple parties in connection with an acquisition plan of arrangement.",
It was reported in the National Post on September 4, 2013 that Mobilicity is in negotiations to have Wind Mobile assume their customers while investors retain control of spectrum licenses, though this report was later denied by Mobilicity.
Failed acquisition by Telus
On May 16, 2013, Telus Mobility announced that it has agreed to acquire Mobilicity for $380 million, pending regulatory approval. On that day, Mobilicity had over 250,000 subscribers and 150 employees and it is believed that Mobilicity has since lost many of those customers. Industry Minister Christian Paradis announced on June 4, 2013 that the Canadian federal government would not permit the Telus takeover of Mobilicity because it would result in the transfer of Mobilicity's AWS wireless spectrum to Telus, in violation of the conditions of the 2009 auction. Telus ultimately terminated its acquisition plans.
Wind Mobile interest
Following the blocking of the proposed Telus deal, Wind Mobile CEO Anthony Lacavera stated that Wind is interested in re-opening consolidation discussions with Mobilicity. Lacavera had in the past called for the consolidation of Wind, Mobilicity, and Public Mobile to better compete with the three major Canadian wireless companies, a plan rebuffed by both Mobilicity and Public Mobile.
After it was announced that Verizon Wireless would be putting off the decision on offering to buy Wind or Mobilicity, Lacavera announced that in addition to buying back a controlling share of Wind he remains interested in purchasing Mobilicity.
Mobilicity's network was built in 2009 and is currently maintained by Ericsson. The company also has a cell-site sharing agreement with Bell Mobility to share cell tower space in all Mobilicity zones. On July 3, 2012, Mobilicity expanded its agreement with Ericsson to manage their network. This is the first renewal of their contract since 2009. They are now responsible to plan, engineer and optimize the network.
The network uses the UMTS IV frequency band, also known as AWS, to provide UMTS service with HSPA data ("3G"). Using this band, user equipment transmits at 1710–1755 MHz, and receives at 2110–2155 MHz. AWS is the same frequency as Wind Mobile and Videotron in Canada and T-Mobile USA. Mobilicity's network is compatible with the same 3G handsets and devices offered by these carriers.
John Bitove, founder of Mobilicity, said that 90% of traffic on that mobile network consists of mobile broadband. Mobilicity announced on June 14, 2012 that it planned to upgrade its older HSPA network to HSPA+, marketing it as 4G. The carrier claimed to have finished this upgrade on October 30, 2012. It provides a supposed theoretical maximum download speeds of up to 21.1 Mbit/s, a significant improvement compared to the previous limit of 3.6 Mbit/s, but only customers with a premium plan or add-on can access these faster speeds. Others will be throttled to a maximum of 2 Mbit/s at all times, with slower speeds after the full speed usage limit is exceeded.
Currently, Mobilicity's network coverage includes parts of the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa including Gatineau, plus Calgary, Edmonton, and the Greater Vancouver area. The carrier has not added any new cities since April 28, 2011, and has been greatly criticized for lack of network improvements when it comes to both densification and expansion. Stewart Lyons, President and COO of Mobilicity, stated that "we are still planning to expand network further (we already have in Vancouver, Toronto, and Edmonton) and improve speeds to HSPA+ (21.1 Mbit/s) before the year end ." This included the addition Orleans, Cumberland, extended Vancouver and Hamilton. However, these plans were pushed back to Q3 and Q4 2013.
Numerous products are available at Mobilicity. While the carrier mostly sells various smartphones, other types of products are also available. There is a 7 day period for return or exchange on newly purchased products provided that the device does not have a total talk-time exceeding 30 minutes. The time period previously consisted of 30 days. All devices in Mobilicity's current lineup include a 365 day warranty.
The vast majority of Mobilicity's products are sold locked. There are many reasons why a customer might want to use a Mobilicity device with a non-Mobilicity SIM card. For example, a customer might want cheaper cell phone service while travelling. Still, Mobilicity does not unlock the devices it sells, except in rare cases at its own discretion.
Mobilicity also offers "Unlimited Prepaid" packages, previously known as "Unlimited To Go". They consist of a feature phone or smartphone, bundled with a SIM card and one, two or three months of unlimited talk and text on Mobilicity's network, usually at a reduced cost. Bundles sometime include a Bluetooth headset or mobile broadband service.
Mobilicity offers a small selection of feature phones. Two models are available: the Huawei U2801 and the Samsung C414Y. Both were sold at the price of $50 per phone during Mobilicity's 50% off sale in May 2012.
On the day of Mobilicity's launch, the Huawei U7519, Totem and Sony Ericsson TM506 feature phones phone were available. All are officially discontinued, although "Unlimited To Go" packages for the TM506 are still available at select HMV and Zellers. The TM506 is notable for being Mobilicity's only feature phone to be sold factory unlocked, allowing it to be used on non-Mobilicity networks compatible with the phone such as Wind Mobile, Videotron Mobile, T-Mobile USA or Rogers Wireless.
Mobilicity offers various smartphones, each using one of three platforms:
- Android: Samsung Galaxy Note II, S III and Q; Sony Xperia T
- BlackBerry OS: Curve 9320, Bold 9790, and BlackBerry Z10
- Windows Phone 8: HTC Windows Phone 8S
Mobilicity also exclusively carried the Mobiflip smartphone in Canada. A variant of the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009, Mobilicity launched it on December 22, 2010. It was discontinued sometime in 2011. The Samsung Gravity Touch feature phone is similar and succeeds the Mobiflip. The HTC Panache 4G was also exclusive to Mobilicity in all of its markets except for Ottawa. It was discontinued following the Galaxy Nexus' launch.
On the day of Mobilicity's launch, the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the HTC Snap, and the Nokia 5230 smartphones were available. The last Symbian smartphone sold by Mobilicity was the Nokia 500. The only Windows Phone 7 device sold by Mobilicity was the Nokia Lumia 710, which was sold from May 17, 2012 until September 30, 2012. All these smartphones are now discontinued.
Internet access devices
Currently, Mobilicity sells two devices that are exclusively designed for mobile broadband:the Huawei E1691 and the Huawei E583C. The E1691 is an USB mobile broadband modem that is officially supported by computers using the Windows, Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, or Linux operating systems. Mobilicity's version of this modem is white and features a coloured Mobilicity logo. The E583 is a portable device, similar to the MiFi, that allows any Wi-Fi device to connect to mobile Internet. Both can download at speeds up to 7.2 Mbit/s, although Mobilicity makes it unclear regarding whether or not their network supports such maximum theoretical speeds. Mobilicity also sells a Wi-Fi dock for use with the USB modem and a Wi-Fi signal repeater.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2012)|
Mobilicity entered the Canadian market on May 15, 2010 with six mobile voice plans. The plans have since undergone various changes. The current lineup of four plans was introduced on April 1, 2012.
Current plans include unlimited local and provincial calling, unlimited sent SMS and MMS to Canada and continental USA, unlimited received messages from any regular phone number and the caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding and conference call calling features. All regular plans except for the one at $25 include Canada-wide long distance, unlimited sent SMS to regular international phone numbers, one of two mobile broadband options and the voicemail calling feature.
Roaming minutes are included in all of Mobilicity's current plans except for the one at $25. These can be used throughout Canada on Rogers Wireless' network, or throughout the United States on T-Mobile USA's network. Those who exceed the amount of roaming minutes included or who subscribe to another plan may top up their Mobilicity account with a certain amount to use for roaming purposes.
Mobilicity offers both site-limited and unlimited mobile broadband Internet access monthly add-ons at a low price to any feature phones or smartphones plan without this feature. Such services can only be used within Mobilicity's coverage area. Tethering is included as long as the phone used supports it. BlackBerry users must pay a premium to cover the BlackBerry Internet Service fee. There are also standalone monthly plans designed exclusively for mobile broadband modems. Pay-per-day access was previously offered but is now discontinued.
All customers, even those without a mobile Internet plan or add-on, can access the Mobilicity.ca website for free. Those without an Internet access subscription who wish to access other sites and services may do so if they have deposited money into a "Wallet" account with Mobilicity. In such a case, pay-per-use charges of $1.50/MB (equal to $1536/GB) apply. Such charges also apply for unintended Internet usage, whether the user accidentally accesses the Internet or whether an application accesses the Internet without asking permission. Most (but not all) phones let the owner completely disable mobile Internet access on the phone by making a small settings change.
Customers using mobile Internet on Mobilicity must follow the operator's Fair Use Policy, which prohibits "causing network instability", as well as illegal "copyright-protected or patent-protected material" transferred without the owner's permission. Those who breach the Fair Use Policy may face consequences, such as throttled Internet speeds or termination of service. Roaming is also not included and will result in additional charges. Mobilicity has been criticized for blocking legitimate traffic and for being unclear about its throttling practices, and for initially refusing to advise customers of what constituted acceptable usage, while maintaining claims of being unlimited, and even going as far as terminating the services of some customers for using too much of an unlimited service.
In October 2012, Mobilicity published a Fair Use Policy stating the allowances for full speed usage on its HSPA+ network. The policy sets a limit of 6 GB of usage at an approximate speed of 2Mbit/s.
Mobilicity's roaming partners are Rogers Wireless in Canada and T-Mobile USA or AT&T in the United States for 2G,3G and 4G service. For both countries, prices are the same, and roaming minutes bundles can be purchased at a reduced cost. Some monthly plans also include such roaming minutes. If these minutes run out, or if a customer does not have them in their plan, regular roaming rates apply. Roaming is also available internationally at higher rates than in Canada and the USA.
Telus Communications sued Mobilicity at the Supreme Court of British Columbia for running a television advertisement it deems to be "false and misleading". The ad in question features various posters with partial details of competitors' monthly plans in different colours, such as yellow for Fido Solutions and white on red for Rogers or Virgin. Mobilicity makes various claims regarding these, such as the requirement of a three-year contract or that unlimited talk time can only be used on evenings or weekends. Shawn Hall, a spokesperson for Telus, claims that "The ads damage Telus’s brand with false claims and must be pulled from circulation immediately." Mobilicity President and COO Stewart Lyons replied by claiming that "Telus is […] trying to intimidate us […] when they don’t feel like competing out on the street." Telus has previously partnered with Public Mobile to sue another new entrant, Wind Mobile, regarding its foreign funding. On Dec. 20, 2012, Justice Christopher Grauer denied Telus's request for an injunction that would have prevented airing of the ads .
Mobile Internet policies
Before October 19, 2012, Mobilicity refused to provide a clear fair use policy despite many customers demanding this. The carrier cancelled services of some users without warning for excessive mobile Internet usage on an unlimited plan. Current COO Stewart Lyons claimed that "If they [Mobilicity customers] use too much data, too quickly, we slow [them] down and then we speed [them] back up."
On October 19, 2012, Mobilicity addressed the issue of unclear policies by publishing a mobile broadband fair use policy. It states that customers can use a minimum of 6 GB at full basic HSPA speed. By choosing a premium plan or add-on, one can obtain a larger allowance of 20 GB and premium HSPA+ speeds. This policy, similar to the practices of Wind Mobile and T-Mobile USA, replaces the older limit of 100 MB per 15 minutes. Some, however, have criticized Mobilicity for selling mobile Internet services on speed and protocol tiers, a practice also employed by Public Mobile with its 2G and 3G plans but not by Wind Mobile, which charges the same price for HSPA and HSPA+ access.
Mobilicity has had many network outages, most of them minor and short-lived but two of the more well known and serious instances are discussed below. On August 24 of 2011, Mobilicity had an outage in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Affected customers could choose to receive either a complimentary voice mail add-on at no charge for three consecutive months, or a one-time prepaid credit.
Towards the end of that year, on December 7, Mobilicity had an outage affecting all of its customers in the company's five markets. Initially, customers could not make any calls. Later, it was also impossible for them to receive calls. Those without Mobilicity who attempted to call a Mobilicity client would be subject to a busy signal, making it impossible for them to leave a voicemail even if the client subscribed to this feature. No compensation was offered to affected customers, possibly due to the 50% off sale happening at that time.
Mobilicity has raised over $100,000 in charitable donations for the "S'Cool Life Fund", a non-governmental funding source for Canadian primary schools established by Mobilicity founder and chairman John Bitove.
Mobilicity has had many advertising campaigns. In 2011, Mobilicity handed out Durex condoms on February 11, shortly before that year's Valentine's Day, in all the cities it served at the time. There was also a $69/month couples plan promoted, valid for two people, with unlimited mobile talk, text and Internet access. The network Calgary was not yet launched and thus that city was excluded from this campaign.
Shortly thereafter, Mobilicity announced a "Data Access Fee/Tax" on April 1, 2011. The fictional $4.01 fee was simply an April Fools' Day joke mocking the system access fee previously charged by incumbent Canadian providers and Rogers Wireless' Government Regulatory Recovery Fee which is "tucked in" that operator's current monthly plans.
Later that year on June 16, Mobilicity began using two computer animated aliens to advertise its products. As a result of a naming competition the company had on the social networking site Facebook, the characters were named "Otis" (green male) and "Alexis" (purple female).
Mobilicity has its own corporate retail store. Additionally, there are some stores third-party authorized dealers that sell "Unlimited Prepaid" packages and sometimes the whole line of Mobilicity products. This includes 7-Eleven, HMV, Metro, NCIX, Staples, The Brick, Walmart and Zellers. For the Metro stores, there were initially eight locations in Toronto and one in Ottawa selling Mobilicity, but this is now reduced to only four Toronto locations. The arrangement consisted of Mobilicity launching full-service kiosks inside these Metro stores. It excluded Metro's Food Basics and Super C discount brands
Unlike Wind Mobile, Mobilicity has not yet opened a retail store catering to the French demographic. They have only translated the packages of their Unlimited Prepaid products. French-speaking regions where the Mobilicity network is available include the Vanier neighborhoods in Ottawa, as well as Gatineau.
- The Samsung C414Y is a basic flip feature phone available at Mobilicity.
- The Huawei E1691 is a USB mobile broadband modem. The Wind Mobile model is shown. Mobilicity's model is identical, but colored white instead of black and featuring Mobilicity's logo instead of Wind's.
- Otis (green male) and Alexis (purple female) are alien mascots used to advertise Mobilicity's products.
- A Mobilicity authorized dealer in Toronto catering to the Chinese population in the city.
- The Huawei E1691 is a USB mobile broadband modem providing a mobile broadband connection.
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