Huawei Unveils Android Smartwatch

huawei watchHuawei continues to break new ground in the wearables space by unveiling this week the Huawei Watch, powered by Android Wear™ at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015. The fully circular watch features a 1.4-inch touch-sensitive AMOLED display, scratch-proof sapphire crystal lens, cold-forged stainless steel frame, and comes with a built-in heart rate monitor and 6-Axis motion sensors. The Huawei Watch is the first smartwatch in the Huawei wearable family.

“We have responded to consumers’ requests from around the world asking for a smartwatch featuring a timeless design that is truly smart from within. Through Huawei’s continued commitment to ‘Make It Possible,’ the Huawei Watch delivers on that promise and gives the consumer a premium smartwatch that is technologically innovative,” said Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group. “As the first smartwatch in our expanding line of premium wearable products, the Huawei Watch was designed and created to enhance and be part of the consumer’s everyday lives.”

Timeless Design

Designed by a team of experienced watch designers that have a rich history in creating fashionable and timeless watches, the attention-to-detail becomes clear upon first glance as the device boasts a sparkling AMOLED 1.4-inch display at 400 x 400 pixels resolution in 286 ppi at a 10,000:1 high contrast ratio, making it the most vibrant Android Wear smartwatch in the world.

Made of more than 130 components, Huawei Watch has a crown, frame and hinge built from high-quality and scratch resistant cold-forged stainless steel making it 40 percent harder. With an intuitive 2 o’clock press button, the watch offers the highest levels of control and comfort to the user. The Huawei Watch comes in three stylish colors: gold, silver and black.

Designed with personalization in mind, more than 40 unique watch faces will be available to choose from, including a full range of watch straps made from different materials, and styles. The Huawei Watch will come with a magnetic charging station for the users benefit.

Smart Within

Powered by Android Wear, receiving SMS, email, calendar, app, and phone call notifications has never been easier or more convenient. Compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 or higher, Huawei Watch boasts a powerful Qualcomm 1.2GHz processor for optimal performance, includes 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM and Bluetooth 4.1. For the sports enthusiast, or just those interested in tracking fitness levels, Huawei Watch features a heart rate monitor sensor, 6-Axis motion sensor, and barometer sensor that automatically detects and tracks in real-time if a user is walking, running, biking, hiking or sleeping. Specifically, users can monitor everything from the number of calories burned, to heart rate, climbing height, steps taken, and distance travelled.

Huawei Health Ecosystem

To encourage consumers to live happier and healthier lives, Huawei is dedicated to building a wearable’s health and lifestyle ecosystem that will help users set goals and track their progress. With exciting partners including Jawbone, the Huawei Health Ecosystem seeks other innovative third-party health and fitness apps that will encourage users to set themselves free.

Availability and Accessories

Huawei Watch will be available in more than 20 countries including United States, United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Norway, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates. Exact availability and pricing will be announced at a future date in local markets.

About Huawei Consumer BG

With 16 R&D centers in countries that include Germany, Sweden, the US, France, Italy, Russia, India, and China, Huawei’s products and services extend to over 170 countries, serving one third of the world’s population. In 2014, Huawei’s smartphone global shipment ranked third in the world. As one of Huawei’s three business groups, Huawei Consumer BG offers mobile phones, mobile broadband (MBB) devices and home devices. With more than 20 years of rich expertise in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, an extensive global network, vast global business operations and network of partners, Huawei Consumer BG is dedicated to bringing the latest technology to consumers, offering a world of possibilities, creating extraordinary experiences and realizing dreams for people everywhere.

Wearables market predicted to leap to 51 million sales in 2015

GfK’s trends data shows that 13.5 million health and fitness trackers were sold globally last year, compared to 4.1 million smartwatches. With major companies expected to enter the market this year, GfK predicts that the combined market will leap to 51.2 million sales in 2015 – three times the size of 2014 – with both segments showing equal importance in this converging market.

Last year, actual sales of health and fitness trackers (HFT) easily outstripped smartwatches. This was driorbitven, in part, by the significantly lower average sales price of HFT, making these devices more affordable than full-feature smartwatches. Another reason for the higher popularity of HFT (according to a GfK survey of 5000 smartphone owners across five countries[1]) is a majority of consumers see activity tracking as being the most important function of a wearable – including a smartwatch – now.

Dr Jan Wassmann, Global Product Manager for Wearables at GfK, comments, “Many consumers are not yet aware of the added benefits a smartwatch has to offer. We believe this will now change, driven by the marketing efforts of the industry this year. Added to this, there is a clear convergence of both segments, which started in the second half of 2014 – and we see this driving market growth. HFT manufacturers are introducing new models which incorporate smart functions, such as reading notifications and messages. And many new smartwatches now come with heart rate sensors and activity tracking capabilities and are being marketed as hybrid fitness devices.”

GfK expects the smartwatch market, in particular, to grow massively, boosted also by a growing sub-segment of independent devices with include a SIM card to connect directly to cellular networks – making these more akin to existing smart phones. GfK’s survey[1] found that over half (56 percent) of smartphone owners interviewed across five countries see this as an important capability that makes them more likely to buy a smartwatch, as it gives them the freedom to leave their smart phone at home. In addition wearable growth is likely to be driven by more fashionable designed devices (e.g. analogue smartwatches) or sensors included in jewelry, which will be more appealing to female consumers – an important segment which has remained almost untapped so far.

The biggest contribution to these global volumes is not surprisingly coming from the developed regions. In particular Western Europe will catch up with North America, which predominantly drove market growth in the past.

Although Western European markets, like many other regions, did not see the expected uptake for the first three quarters of 2014, volumes jumped in the fourth quarter – driven by strong holiday sales and new model launches by known manufacturers. In Europe’s biggest markets, Germany, Great Britain and France, actual sales[3] in Q4 accounted for 36 percent of the total volume sold in 2014. This leads to the conclusion that wearables are a popular gift during the holiday season and give an optimistic outlook for 2015.

About the surveys

GfK self-funded survey of 5000 smartphone owners in China, Germany, South Korea, UK and US. Online interviews were conducted in October 2014. The study findings are available (upon free registration) here: http://www.gfk.com/Industries/technology/Pages/Wearables.aspx

SOURCE GfK

Bang & Olufsen Opens Second Showroom location in Vancouver

Bang & Olufsen, the Danish provider of exclusive, high quality audio and video products, today announces the grand opening of a new sensory showroom in Vancouver, Canada.  Bang & Olufsen Hi-Fi Centre is located on 433 Carrall Street (in Gastown District) in a shop-in-shop retail format with Vancouver-based A/V retailer Hi-Fi Center.  The new showroom will feature the complete Bang & Olufsen product portfolio of high-end, custom made audio and video equipment as well as the B&O PLAY collection of portable music systems, headphones and premium wireless speakers aimed at the digital generation.  The showroom is significant as it is the first showroom in Canada to introduce the newly redesigned retail concept store and is the second Bang & Olufsen retail showroom to occupy Vancouver (alongside Bang & Olufsen South Granville).

Bang & Olufsen Opens Second Showroom location in Vancouver, Canada

“We are happy to heighten our retail presence in Vancouver and introduce our next generation retail concept to local residents and tourists,” states Jacob Siboni, Director of North American Sales, Bang & Olufsen. “With the opening of the new Bang & Olufsen Hi-Fi Centre showroom, brand enthusiasts will encounter impeccable sound, Danish design and a complete sensory experience.”

Originating from Denmark, Bang & Olufsen was founded in 1925 and offers state-of-the-art audio and video products for music lovers, tech gurus and style seekers alike. Their range of products includes televisions with razor-sharp picture quality, music systems with magical user elements and high-performance loudspeakers with a second-to-none sound experience.  Additionally, B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen will feature its new collection of portable sound systems and TV’s aimed at the digital generation.

“We are excited to incorporate the award-winning Bang & Olufsen portfolio to Hi-Fi Centre’s new store location. The new retail concept by Bang & Olufsen, is a perfect fit for our location, and underscores Bang & Olufsen’s commitment to providing extraordinary consumer experiences,” states Igor Kivritsky, owner of Hi-Fi Centre.

A Grand Opening customer event will be held on Friday, Feb 27 at 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Guests will experience the new and award-winning, innovative television, BeoVision Avant – “the one that moves”. BeoVision Avant has sublime Ultra High Definition (4K) video performance and jaw-dropping acoustic authenticity  built in. The new television also amazes with magical convenience and mechanical movement – and of course the discrete but powerful sound panel that unfolds when the television is on.

To preview the revolutionary BeoVision Avant and the new Bang & Olufsen Hi-Fi Centre showroom, RSVP to rsvp@hificentre.com

To learn more about the new BeoVision Avant, please view its product page: http://www.bang-olufsen.com/en/picture/beovision-avant

Bang & Olufsen was founded in Struer, Denmark, in 1925 by Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen, two innovative, young engineers devoted to high quality audio reproduction. Since then, the brand has become an icon of performance and design excellence through its long-standing craftsmanship tradition and the strongest possible commitment to high-tech research and development.

Still at the forefront of domestic technology, Bang & Olufsen has extended its comprehensive experience with integrated audio and video solutions for the home to other areas such as the hospitality and automotive industries in recent years. Consequently, its current product range epitomizes seamless media experiences in the home as well as in the car and on the move. For more information on Bang & Olufsen, please visit www.bang-olufsen.com.

Hi-Fi Centre Vancouver is a 30-year-old, family-owned business, founded by Alex Kivritsky.  It represents some of the finest manufacturers of high-performance audio, home theatre, whole-house audio, compact systems, and headphones.

 

SOURCE Bang & Olufsen

CIRA says E-commerce is going mobile

The 2015 .CA Factbook, an annual report on the state of the Canadian Internet, points to deepening mobile engagement among Canadians, a declining interest in cable subscriptions and new opportunities for Canadian e-commerce.

Key findings from the report CIRA

Canadian businesses must seize e-commerce opportunities now

  • The Canadian e-commerce sector continues to grow. According to Statistics Canada, Canadian enterprises sold more than $136 billion in goods and services over the Internet in 2013, up from $122 billion a year earlier.
  • Mobile devices are taking a more central role in e-commerce. According to .CA’s tracking research, 20 per cent of Canadians ages 18-34 have made a purchase from a mobile device.
  • Canadians who are buying online report spending more on transactions through Canadian websites than they do on international ones. Selling to Canadians through Canadian websites, therefore, may be an effective sales strategy
  • A strong web presence affects retailers looking to drive sales in-store; many Canadians report browsing online for goods they will eventually purchase in-store.

“E-commerce represents an important avenue of growth for Canadian companies,” said David Fowler, director of marketing and communications for .CA. “Our research found more than 40 per cent of small businesses do not have websites, yet all Canadians, particularly younger adults, are increasingly making purchases from mobile devices. Canadian small businesses need to get online, and they need to be ready to sell on mobile.”

Additional report findings

  • New sources of online video have turned Canada into a country of cord-cutters: 39 per cent of Canadians without a cable subscription point to the availability of online video as a factor in their decision not to subscribe. Of those with cable subscriptions, 30 per cent of survey respondents are considering canceling their cable subscriptions.
  • Canadians have embraced the mobile revolution and are deepening their engagement on mobile devices: How Canadians use mobile devices is shifting. There was a 46 per cent growth in photo and video sharing (likely due to the popularity of Instagram, snapchat, vine and similar apps.) Mobile viewing of sports content and use of maps and directions applications increased by almost 40 per cent.

Further data is available in the full 2015 .CA Factbook, available online here.

About CIRA and .CA

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) manages the .CA top-level domain on behalf of all Canadians. A Member-driven organization, CIRA also develops and implements policies that support Canada’s Internet community, and represents the .CA registry internationally.

Evolve by Weststone has its own 3D App

Evolve by Weststone, a condominium development in Surrey, is being billed as one of the most affordable luxury projects in the province. With prices starting at just under $94,000, it’s hard to argue.

Evolve isn’t just getting attention because of its price. The sales centre is billed as being theevolve first to offer augmented reality technology allowing visitors to essentially walk around inside a virtual version of one of the suites using the Evolve 3D app on their own phone. The app, which people can use outside of the sales centre by pointing their phone’s camera at the Evolve brochure, was designed using gaming and haptic technology, digital imagery and geo-tracking.

Head over to the iTunes store to download the app or find it on the Google Play Store as well.

There’s a range of homes to choose from – with 406 units which span between 316 and 1,294 square feet. Floor plans in the 35-storey concrete highrise include studios, and one- and two-bedroom suites, with 300 of the suites priced under $250,000. For people who need more space, penthouses and townhome lofts are available as well.

“We are ever-conscious of the market demands and want to encourage both home ownership and investment at Surrey City Centre,” explains Weststone president and CEO Brian Regehr.

The development, slated to be finished by 2018, is nestled on 103 Avenue and 133 Street among many amenities. “Its location is a two-minute walk from [Surrey’s] main library, from city hall, from the rec centre, and a mere five minutes from SkyTrain and a shopping mall,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. There’s also parkland and schools less than five minutes away.

Each suite is finished with large, bright windows, spacious balconies, 8.5-foot ceilings, a choice of two design schemes, some hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops.

Rogers launches Smart Home Monitoring

Ever wonder what your dog does all day? Or forget to turn off the kitchen lights or turn down the heat when you’re off on vacation or at work? Today, Rogers introduced Smart Home Monitoring, a new way for Vancouver and Lower Mainland residents to easily connect, protect and manage what’s happening at home from anywhere, at any time using their mobile, tablet or computer.

With Rogers Smart Home Monitoring, customers can choose from three ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS INC. - Rogers launches home monitoringdifferent packages based on their needs and their budget.  Unlike conventional security platforms, the system can connect to-night vision cameras, lighting, door locks, appliances, thermostats, door and window sensors, and monitor for intruders, motion detection, water leaks, carbon monoxide, smoke and fire. All features are customized and easily controlled through a mobile app.

The Rogers Central Monitoring Station monitors 24/7 for emergency conditions with local police, fire and ambulance dispatch, and real-time text and email alerts are sent to a customer’s mobile, tablet or computer so they know when the kids or dog walker come and go or if someone’s burning toast in the kitchen.

“For most people, their home and what’s in it are their most valuable possessions and they want more than just a security system to protect it,” said Ian Pattinson, Vice-President, Rogers Smart Home Monitoring. “Our Smart Home Monitoring system is a connected solution that gives customers peace of mind to know their home is safe and lets them interact with their home while they’re at work, on vacation or out shopping for the day.”

A recent national survey found that more than 65 percent of British Columbians want to live in a connected home, nearly 5 per cent above the national average. A whopping 79 per cent agreed it would make their life easier.

After launching in Ontario in 2011, Smart Home Monitoring expanded into Atlantic Canada, including New Brunswick and Newfoundland in 2013.

“Our customers love their Smart Home Monitoring systems.  We hear stories every day about how it’s changed their lives so we’re excited to bring this innovation to our customers in Vancouver,” said Pattinson.

Rogers wireless Share Everything™ plan customers who sign up for Smart Home Monitoring will instantly receive a discount on their Smart Home Monitoring service.

The new Smart Home Monitoring service will be unveiled at the BC Home and Garden Show tomorrow, February 18th. Residents in the Greater Vancouver area will then be able to book a FREE in-home demo and assessment by visiting www.rogers.com/smarthome.

About Rogers

Rogers Communications is a leading diversified public Canadian communications and media company. We are Canada’s largest provider of wireless communications services and one of Canada’s leading providers of cable television, high-speed Internet and telephony services to consumers and businesses. Through Rogers Media, we are engaged in radio and television broadcasting, televised shopping, magazines and trade publications, sports entertainment, and digital media. We are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: RCI.A and RCI.B) and on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RCI).  For further information about the Rogers group of companies, please visit rogers.com

Canon EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R feature world’s highest camera resolution

Canon Canada Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, is proud to introduce the Canon EOS 5DSi and Canon EOS 5DS Ri Digital SLR cameras featuring the world’s highest resolution* among 35mm format DSLRs. Providing photographers with uncompromising image quality, these new EOS models incorporate a newly designed Canon 50.6 megapixel full-frame CMOS image sensor and Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors for superb image quality and processing speed. Perfect for commercial, studio, portrait, landscape and architectural photography, or anyone looking for an affordable alternative to medium format, the ultra-high resolution of these new models allow for large-format printing and extensive cropping capability while maintaining fantastic image quality.

Maximizing the potential of the new 50.6 megapixel sensor – for the first time in an EOS camera the low-pass filter effect in the EOS 5DS R model is cancelled. The cancellation of the low-pass filter helps deliver sharp images, squeezing the most out of every pixel. Both models provide attractive options for medium format shooters especially when coupled with a wide array of more than 70 creative Canon EF lenses to choose from.canon eos 5ds

Built to Maximize Sharpness
In addition to the 50.6 megapixel full-frame image sensor and Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors, both cameras include a 61-Point High Density Reticular AF array including up to 41 cross-type AF points and EOS iTR AF for high precision autofocus. They also include the EOS Scene Detection system featuring a 150,000-pixel RGB+IR 252-zone metering sensor that provides enhanced precision and performance.

In support of such a high-resolution imaging sensor, the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R cameras were designed to minimize camera shake and significantly improve stability via a reinforced chassis, baseplate and tripod lug to improve rigidity. Canon also re-designed the mirror vibration control system to help reduce mirror bounce and camera shake. To help maximize stability and minimize vibrations, Canon added a new Arbitrary Release Time Lag Setting in Mirror Lock mode in both models. In addition to the standard setting (press the shutter button once to lock the mirror, then again to release the shutter), the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R cameras offer new setting intervals of 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, one and two seconds, releasing the shutter after the selected preset delay, allowing potential camera vibration to dissipate before shutter release.

A new Picture Style called “Fine Detail” has been added to enhance the sharpness of JPEGs and EOS Movies with three new settings: Strength, Fineness and Threshold. With such abundant resolution on each sensor, both models also provide two cropped shooting modes, while still delivering high-resolution images 30.5 megapixels for the 1.3x mode and 19.6 megapixels for the 1.6x mode. The available crop options are visible as a mask or an outline in the viewfinder; so shooters can know exactly where to frame their subject.

Capturing the Action
Like the EOS 7D Mark II, the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R cameras feature an advanced AE system that can detect and compensate for flickering light sources such as sodium vapor lamps that are often used in gymnasiums and natatoriums. When enabled, this anti-flicker system automatically adjusts shutter release timing to help reduce disparities in exposure and colour especially during continuous shooting. And new Auto White Balance settings include Ambience Priority and White Priority (for use when shooting under tungsten lighting).

Photographers and cinematographers will appreciate improved custom controls including a built-in intervalometer and bulb timer to enable the capture of time-lapse images and long-exposure images. These features are ideal for recording fireworks, star trails, sunrises and more.

Both models feature Intelligent Viewfinder II providing approximately 100 percent field of view, while adding the ability to display cropped shooting frames and superimpose a customizable selection of camera settings and data such as dual-mode electronic level display and grid, as well as exposure, white balance, metering, drive, image quality and AF modes. A new Customizable Quick Control Screen, another first for EOS cameras, allows photographers to quickly change frequently used camera settings and functions.

The EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R cameras continue the EOS Movie tradition with the ability to shoot in 1080p Full HD up to 30p or 720p HD video up to 60p. A creative Time Lapse Movie function, a first for EOS cameras, takes a continuous series of still photographs and automatically combines them in camera into a Full HD movie file. Interval adjustments can be set from one second to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. The number of shots possible range from 2 to 3,600 with a maximum of two minutes and 30 seconds of playback time. In addition, high-speed continuous shooting up to five-frames-per-second (fps) at full 50 megapixel resolution allows users to capture fast action.

The EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R cameras feature dual card slots for CF and SD memory cards, including Ultra High Speed (UHS-1) SD cards. Built to last, the cameras also feature a shutter durability rating up to 150,000 cycles, the same as the EOS 5D Mark III.

Availability
The EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R Digital SLR cameras are scheduled to be available through authorized Canon dealers in June 2015 for estimated retail prices of $4,099.99 and $4,299.99 for the body only, respectively.

For more information about the Canon EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R Digital SLR cameras, the full list of product specifications and compatible lenses, please visit www.canon.ca.

About Canon Canada Inc.
Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canon Canada Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon USA, is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business and medical digital imaging solutions. Innovation and cutting-edge technology have been essential ingredients in Canon’s success. Canon Canada Inc. is committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 per cent Canadian-based service and support for all of the products it distributes. Canon Canada Inc. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. For more information, please visit: www.canon.ca or join us on Facebook at:www.facebook.com/CanonCanada.

All referenced product names and other marks are trademarks of their respective owners.

Availability, prices, and specifications of all products are subject to change without notice. Actual prices are set by individual dealers and may vary.

* Among 35mm-format Digital SLR cameras as of February 5, 2015 according to published competitive information.

i These devices have not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. These devices are not, and may not be offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.

SOURCE Canon Canada Inc.

Vroom Mobile Daily App goes International

The mobile Vroom Daily App is now available in Canada. Vroom provides free downloadable daily activity tips for parents with children aged from birth to five.
The free mobile Daily Vroom app, available for iOS, Android and Fire Phone platforms, provides downloadable activity tips in English and Spanish so parents can turn everyday moments into brain-building moments with their children. (PRNewsFoto/Bezos Family Foundation)

Every day, age appropriate tips are sent to mobile phones encouraging ‘brain-building moments’ between parents and their children. Each tip is easy to do and based in the latest early childhood scientific research. Parents also receive a reminder to check their phone for the daily Vroom tip.

The Vroom App is available on three mobile platforms: Android (through the Google Play store), iOS (through the Apple App Store) and Fire Phone. Parents and families can easily access and download the appropriate platform app by going to the Vroom website – www.joinvroom.org – and clicking on the ‘Download the App’ link at the top of the Home Page.

Until this week, the mobile Vroom Daily App has only been available in the United States, where it went through several enhancements leading up to its international release. It’s being released in 34 different countries around the world this week. Currently the Vroom Daily App is available in English and Spanish, with other languages to be introduced over the coming weeks.

Vroom and the mobile Vroom Daily App are initiatives of the Bezos Family Foundation which is based in Seattle.

Understanding Legacy Modernization

Legacy Modernization allows organizations to update applications that are out of date.

Legacy ModernizationWith Legacy Modernization a conversion process enhances coding languages and protocols so that they work with modern hardware and wireless devices. During this rewrite you must make sure that backups extend all the way to the DASB or corruption will result.

The legacy modernization process is gradual and must use an efficient data migration strategy as well. The overlapping functionality and data duplication acts as a temporary bridge for legacy coding languages such as COBOL to functionally communicate with a modern language until the process is complete and the system has been updated.

Legacy modernization also allows you to extend key aspects of your legacy applications so they can be deployed as HTML 5 applications. This re-purposing not only helps you improve work flow, it also reduces the costs of modernization.
This is critical since mobile usage is now higher than desktop usage for access to information and if your legacy applications cannot function on mobile devices your organization may be missing out.

You need to understand that legacy modernization allows you to improve legacy  applications, without starting from scratch. Re-architecture also allows you to transform your legacy applications so that can meet current company needs. You will also have to protect your original data, codes, and other important content as you transition these applications into APIs and web services.

Once your legacy applications have been updated, this will allow you to share information, software, and applications with your clients in a way that works for them. When you consider how old legacy applications can affect your business, you can see just how significant legacy modernization can be.

About the Author

Mike Miranda is a self-proclaimed tech nerd and gadget geek. He is a PR person for Rocket Software.

CRTC releases Let’s Talk TV decisions

Last week the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued two decisions related to some of the issues addressed in Let’s Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians, as well as a decision on the future of mobile television content. These announcements concern local television stations, simultaneous substitution and mobile television services.

The way Canadians watch and enjoy content is evolving rapidly. LetstalktvThey increasingly use the Internet and mobile devices to use content. The CRTC wants to make sure that Canada’s television system not only adapts to keep up with the rapid pace of change, but innovates to find new ways to enable Canadians to watch and produce content.

In December 2014, the CRTC published its first decision related to Let’s Talk TV, which banned 30-day cancellation policies of service providers when television subscribers wanted to change service providers. These decisions are the latest announcements further to the Let’s Talk TV conversation. In the coming weeks, the CRTC will issue more decisions related to this process, which will give a forward-looking framework for Canada’s television system.

Over-the-air television

The CRTC has reaffirmed that free over-the-air television is, in the near term, a competitive alternative to cable and satellite television. Local television stations are important sources of local news and information programming for the communities they serve, as well as of entertainment and educational programming.

Also, with multiple online options available, Canadians who choose not to pay for cable or satellite subscriptions can still have free access to their local television stations, many of which are available in high definition with minimal one-time equipment costs. Seventy-six percent of Canadians can receive the signals of at least five stations, and in some cities they can tune in to 15 or more channels. Over-the-air signals offer exceptional image quality because they are not compressed.

The CRTC heard from many Canadians who did not wish to lose access to free over-the-air television. It has put broadcasters on notice that should they decide to shut down their over-the-air transmitters, they will lose the regulatory privileges that come with over-the-air transmission. These include mandatory carriage on the basic packages offered by cable and satellite companies and the ability to ask simultaneous substitution (the temporary replacement of the signal of a television channel with that of another channel showing the same program at the same time).  The CRTC also announced it will check the funding of local and community programming in 2015-2016.

Simultaneous substitution

During the Let’s Talk TV conversation and for a several years, Canadians have complained that simultaneous substitution mistakes cause them to miss certain parts of live events. For instance, they sometimes miss important plays during a football game or part of a presentation at an awards ceremony.

Given that the Super Bowl is a unique event and that the heavily promoted advertising is part of the spectacle, the CRTC has decided to prohibit simultaneous substitutions during the Super Bowl starting at the end of the 2016 NFL season (i.e., the Super Bowl in 2017). It is open to Bell Media, the current right holder, to waive its simultaneous substitution privilege for the 2016 game.

In addition, the CRTC will not tolerate avoidable errors related to simultaneous substitution. It is putting in place regulatory measures to make sure that Canadians don’t miss important parts of the programming they enjoy and pay to watch.

In this regard, the CRTC encourages Canadians to be vigilant and to send complaints when they see a real simultaneous substitution error. Cable and satellite companies that make errors may have to rebate their subscribers, while local television stations that make errors may lose the privilege to ask simultaneous substitution for time or for specific types of programming. The CRTC will announce further details on the implementation of this measure at a later date.

The evidence presented at the Let’s Talk TV public hearing showed that revenues generated by simultaneous substitution are important to the broadcasting system. They keep advertising dollars in Canada, which in turn helps create programs that Canadians value (including news and information), maintains jobs and supports local economies.

For these reasons, local television stations will continue to be allowed to ask simultaneous substitution and cable and satellite companies will be allowed to do it for the time being. Cable and satellite companies, however, will no longer be permitted to do simultaneous substitution for specialty channels.

The CRTC recognizes that many Canadians still rely on over-the-air programming for news and information programming, but it is also clear that the schedule-driven model of the past is changing and a more viewer-centric and on-demand model is emerging. As such, the CRTC does not expect over-the-air television and simultaneous substitution to be around indefinitely.

An open communication system

As Canadians turn more and more to the Internet for viewing content, it is important to make sure that these new platforms are made available to Canadians in a fair and open way. In this regard, the CRTC issued a decision today that reinforces its commitment to an open Internet. The CRTC has directed Bell Mobility and Vidéotron to stop giving their mobile television services, Bell Mobile TV and illico.tv, an unfair advantage in the marketplace, to the disadvantage of other Internet content.

These companies exempted their own mobile television services from their standard monthly data charges. Content from other websites or apps, however, counted against the customer’s data cap.

Bell Mobility must drop this unlawful practice by April 29, 2015. For its part, Vidéotron indicated that it planned to withdraw its illico.tv app for BlackBerry and Android devices by the end 2014. Vidéotron must confirm by March 31, 2015 that this app has been withdrawn and make sure that any new mobile TV service it offers does not give it an unfair preference or advantage over similar services.

This decision will favour an open and fair marketplace for mobile TV services, enabling innovation and choice for Canadians.