Portal potty

BCE has finally decided to leverage its extensive media saavy to provide high-bandwidth content to Bell Sympatico subscribers. The web portal is currently in the works, but if you are on Sympatico, you can take a sneek peak at Sympatico Fast Lane: Members Only and speed.sympatico.ca.

Most portals are pretty blah. Half the MSN.ca portal are advertisements cleverly fastlane.jpg disguised as news articles. Sympatico.ca’s current portal is not easy to customize. And don’t get me started on Yahoo!

However, Sympatico Fast Lane seems to have some truly interesting, unique features in the works:

NHL SnapShot: Watch an abridged 20 minute clip of any hockey game from the previous night. Today, you can see the Leafs lose the playoffs :(.

2004 Juno Awards: Exclusive live webcast.

Off the Air: A compilation of funny TV commercials to watch. An intriguing feature, considering AdCritic is no longer around.

Download Centre: Members-only download site for game demos, movie trailers, etc. Never wait at FilePlanet again.

SayMail: You can create your own email greetings, complete with images and a voice recording.

However, I await the day that CTV (part of Bell Globemedia, which is a subsidiary of BCE) offers their TV shows online as video downloads, kinda like what the BBC is doing now.

Like fighting with one hand behind your back

New York Times had an article today on how VoIP will change the competitive landscape in Canada with regards to data communication.

One thing’s for sure, there will be more competition around – the question is how substantial it will be. I’m still not 100% convinced that the likes of Primus and Vonage have the killer app, but they’re products are definitely decent.

An interesting quote about how regulated the ILECs are:

…The phone companies are especially concerned that VoIP technology will give cable operators a free hand to offer “triple play” bundling, or discounted prices for packages of TV, Internet and local phone service.

B.C.E. and Telus also bundle services, but they are not allowed to offer a discount of more than 10 percent on the usual retail price. These restrictions do not apply to new suppliers of local phone service or to unregulated services, like wireless, cable, Internet and long-distance phone calls.

Sabia and others are calling for the CRTC to loosen the leash around their necks so that they can better compete with the new smaller, faster players. Sabia cites the impending convergence of IP, voice and wireless will easily give competitors a massive upper hand if BCE is not allowed a level playing field.

For now, the CRTC is satisfied with giving the ILECs a handicap via VoIP regulations that the CLECs do not have to follow.