Finally, Wireless Competition Explodes in Canada

The 3 stoogesShove over Rogers, Bell and Telus. In announcing the rules to the upcoming (May 2008) advanced spectrum auction, industry minister Jim Prentice has blasted open the doors to new wireless competition in Canada. Here is a quick overview of the new rules:

  • 40 of the 105 available megahertz will be set aside for new entrants
  • Incumbents will be required to allow roaming on their networks at reasonable rates (this is crucial as any new entrant may start regionally and take up to a few years to establish full national coverage)
  • Incumbents will be required to share towers with new entrants (significantly reducing startup costs and redundant infrastructure)

The government has given the would-be entrants (and pretty much everyone except for the existing telcos and their bankers) everything they were asking for. The game is on for startups and new entrants in the Canadian wireless space. So get to it. The crew here at StartupNorth are just this minute back at the orbiting headquarters, scrambling beneath couch cushions for the mere few hundred million in change needed to finance a spectrum bid and national roll out.

Even if launching a whole new wireless carrier is a little out of your league, this is great news for tech entrepreneurs in Canada. Despite recent improvements, Canada has long lagged the world in terms of mobile adoption, open access to networks and affordable data rates. With wireless rapidly becoming ?the new last mile? of the internet, our ability to innovate is going to depend on the emergence of a competitive wireless market. Assuming the new rules bring real competition to Canada, this announcement is the best thing tech entrepreneurs could hope for.

If you want a hint of where the wind is blowing for open and competitive wireless markets, look no further than Google?s recent announcement of the Android API and Verizon?s move to open their network to non-Verizon devices (even non-phone devices). Time to get out that whiteboard, and dust off those pitch decks.

As if this weren?t big enough news itself… The other reason that we?re bringing you this story on is to announce that, starting Monday, the North family is getting a little bigger. will be launching and joins the StartupNorth family as a partner site. Tune in for more coverage of mobile startups, industry trends, device reviews, and everything awesome yet to come from the Great Wireless North.

onaswarm – Lifestreaming in groups

In the world of RSS, and with users creating more of the actual content that popular sites are reselling to other users, we all start to create little islands of stuff out there on different sites, and rarely do we get the chance to pull it all together.

I create a lot of my own stuff. I twitter, create seesmic videos, have a facebook profile, have a blog, this blog, and post on another blog, I use, and so on. It gets hard, or impossible, to serve all of this content up to someone else in a meaningful way. On their own, each tidbit I leave on a site can often lack context, but aggregated together, the lifestream starts to tell a story.

onaswarm.pngOnaswarm is a new release from David Janes, based in Toronto, Ontario, that is one of the first movers in the personal aggregation space. There are others, such as friendfeed, but everyone in the market so far is early to the game.

RSS is a real market, and you have to think of it that way.

To some people RSS is at best just a file format, the vast majority of people don’t even have a clue what it is, but to a few, RSS is a market that is in a lot of pain right now. A market can be defined as “The opportunity to buy or sell; extent of demand for merchandise” and we are seeing that there is increasing demand for products and services which make RSS more useful and consumable to end users and businesses. In the same way that AideRSS and Feedburner have provided specific and useful tools to their target markets, there are subsets of the RSS market that remain open to a lifestreaming player.

The Consumer Market

Whoever gets the consumer side of the RSS market right is going to do pretty well. You only have to look at any set of internet usage estimates to get an idea of just how much consuming people are doing. An aggregator that can help people pull in all the content they are leaving all over the place will have a lot of opportunities. As each individual gets more accustomed to creating, and then reading content created by other amateurs, the need to have an adequate aggregation toolset will become more and more real.

The Enterprise Market

Standards like RSS are becoming prevalent in enterprise software and as more enterprise software platforms start to produce RSS feeds, there is going to be significant demand for aggregators which bring together feeds in unique and productive ways. There is a need to centralize feeds from tools like Sharepoint, Lotus Notes, and Wikis. Perhaps even email.

Innovative, Still not Pretty

Onaswarm has by far the best model for combining all manner of feeds in a reasonable and intuitive way. By reducing redundant information and filtering regularly recurring types of information Onaswarm becomes useful beyond a plain vanilla aggregator. Even better, Onaswarm allows groups of people to loosely combine all of their feeds and then slowly acts as a defacto social network. This is the Toronto Swarm, which gives you a reading of what is happening in Toronto’s tech scene.

The one downside to Onaswarm is that it really needs a decent UI overhaul. Things feel a little disjointed and a bit ugly. I am not the only one who feels that way, and I am pretty sure the guys at Onaswarm know it is something they are going to have to tackle.

Until their business model becomes more apparent (I am sure they have one, but are choosing to more generally test and prove the product before they really go to market), it will be hard to know if Onaswarm will be a winner or follower in the Lifestreaming space and RSS aggregator market. I think they are currently the best out there, in spite of the aforementioned need to fix up the UI. While it is not yet clear how quickly the market will or will not mature, the space should ultimately prove lucrative.

Contact David Janes from Blogmatrix.

StartupCamp Toronto – More Details

We are VERY excited to announce the line up for StartupCamp Toronto. But first, a big thank you to our sponsors. And not just because we couldn’t have put together this event without them.

These folks are in the business of making startups successful, without them a startup’s chances drop significantly… and then we’d have nothing to write about! So get to know these guys and gals at StartupCamp.

Presenting Companies
The five presenting companies have been chosen, thanks for all your votes! Drum roll…

Albert Lai, who has started more companies than you have fingers, will be kicking things off with some thoughts on the state of the Canadian startup scene. If we get a few beers in him, Albert might even give us the inside track on his latest venture.

StartupCampToronto1 will be held at No Regrets, which is located at 42 Mowat Ave in the West end of the city. Parking is free in their lot starting at 6pm, and the King and Queen Street streetcars will get you there from downtown as well.

More Tickets!
Now that the details are worked out, we have put the last set of tickets up for grabs. This batch is for Startups and Gurus only. Service Provider sponsorships are also still available.

There’s an After Party… AND EVERYONE IS INVITED!
We really hated having to turn people away… so we decided to throw an after party at No Regrets! Everyone is invited. Doors open at 8:30pm. The after party is about more than free flowing beer (there will be plenty)… over a dozen startups will be giving demos all night!

An incredible, but secret, announcement…
Woah, have to keep a lid on this one. We have a huge new announcement to make at StartupCampToronto, you won’t want to miss this. Whether you just have an idea, or have been slaving away at your startup for years, something is about to happen in Canada that you want to know about.