Onslaught of data-hungry smart phones is a major test for carriers

The 2010 Olympic Games offer a rare moment, wrote the National Post Feb. 13. The two-week burst of wireless activity as an estimated one million tourists converge on British Columbia’s lower mainland is the first real test for how carriers like BCE Inc., Telus Corp. and Rogers Communications Inc. will cope with a torrent of demand for all that the mobile Web has to offer – myriad multimedia applications, streaming video, updates, stories, texts.

“The Vancouver Olympics will be a good test bed for network capacity issues,” says Michael Wade, a professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University and an expert on the Canadian telecommunications industry. “At the Olympics, more so than normal life, it won’t just be voice and texting,” Wade says. “People will be taking pictures and even short videos, which they’ll be sending out through their cellphones.”

Wade says for the last decade or so, wireless carriers have roughly doubled network capacity every two years. BCE’s Bell Canada, the premier sponsor in Vancouver and official communications provider, went one step further, adding an additional 25 per cent to the Vancouver region.

Bell Aliant sues Rogers on Internet ad claim

In the latest skirmish of the telecom ad wars, Bell Aliant Regional Communications Income Fund is taking Rogers Communications Inc. to court in New Brunswick over claims about its Internet service, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 16. However, one expert said, debates over subjective claims will become irrelevant as providers start offering similar speeds and begin to compete solely on price and add-ons.

“Fibre-to-the-home would be faster than cable,” said Michael Wade, a professor of IT strategy at the Schulich School of Business at York University, in a comment about Bell’s new fibre optic network. Claims of reliability are more nebulous, he added, but one thing seemed certain: As the minute differences between high-speed Internet services start to blur, subjective claims will fade away to be replaced by considerations, such as value or additional services.

“It’s just marketing, really,” Wade added. “When it comes down to it, like with any commodity, it’s just going to come down to who’s got the lowest price.”

How to make HST easier to swallow

Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing in the Schulich School of Business at York University, has some free advice for the provincial government on the HST [harmonized sales tax], wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 13 in a story about a $1.6-million marketing blitz to sell the move to voters. “Shut up about it,” says Middleton. “There’s actually so little public outcry, it didn’t even seem to come up in the byelections,” he says, referring to votes won easily by the Liberals on Sept. 17 in St. Paul’s and Feb. 4 in Toronto Centre.

“With a substantial time going to the next election (in October 2011), with evidence from byelections that this isn’t popping up as a major issue, I’m not sure I’d draw people’s attention to it.”

Middleton, one of Canada’s top marketing gurus, appreciates the Liberals’ dilemma with the bland magnifying-glass campaign. “Let’s put it this way: My advertising professional background and academic background says it’s the only way they could tackle the issue. As a citizen, I think it’s pathetic. Because we all know the real issue here…we’re so deeply in debt we need to get extra revenue from somewhere.”

Schulich makes Financial Times’ top 100 MBA programs

Canadian MBA programs excel in research, successfully offer international business studies and have solid academic fundamentals, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 13. That’s why six Canadian schools were named among the Top 100 global MBA programs in the 12th annual Financial Times (FT) ranking, released this January.

Della Bradshaw, FT’s business education editor and adviser of the paper’s MBA rankings, noticed York University’s Schulich School of Business is investing in academic qualifications.

The family is back

According to Statistics Canada, 66 per cent of children lived with married parents as of 2006, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Feb. 15. This is a sharp drop from the 81 per cent figure of 1986. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t dismiss the longing for more traditional arrangements – or at least what they symbolize – as immature romanticism or antiquarian nostalgia.

Indeed, there is some suggestion many want to live up to this ideal. A recent study by York University Professor Anne-Marie Ambert showed that divorce rates in Canada have declined sharply in the past decade or so. The popular notion that “one in two marriages ends in divorce” may have been accurate in the 1980s, particularly in the Untied States, but it is no longer true.

Divorce hit its peak in the late 1980s and then dropped throughout the 1990s. Today, says Ambert, “the risk of divorce by the 30th wedding anniversary for recently married couples (is) 38 per cent for (Canada) as a whole.” And the risk of divorce for first marriages is even lower: “First marriages have a 67 per cent chance of lasting a lifetime.”

Flame retardants to come under McGill microscopes

In 2008, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency warned that children who regularly suck or chew on erasers were at some health risk from phthalates, wrote the Montreal Gazette Feb. 16 in a story about a new health research project being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. As for BFRs [brominated flame retardants], a number of European countries have banned some of them in household furnishings.

But the scientific jury is still out, and that’s one reason for the McGill-led research, a five-year project that will also involve scientists from York University, the Université de Montréal, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario.

Cameron, Fonda wrongly named as backing TAU boycott

A letter calling for a boycott of the Tel Aviv University International Student Film Festival lists James Cameron and Jane Fonda as signatories, but the world-famous director and actor are said to deny any connection to the effort, wrote The Jerusalem Post Feb. 10.

The two activists’ names appear in an e-mail accompanying the letter distributed by York University film Professor John Greyson and Canada-based filmmaker Kathy Wazana, who did not respond to repeated requests from the Post for comment.

Osgoode team finishes third in UK mediation competition

Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom won the first prize in the 5th International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Commercial Mediation Competition hosted by ICC, with the University of South Wales in Australia taking second place. York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School came in third.

The annual moot mediation competition is organized by ICC’s Amicable Dispute Resolution (ADR) Department and is a one-of-a-kind event that gathers teams from law schools and mediation experts from around the world. A new attendance record was set this year, with 44 law schools from 18 countries and almost 100 professionals participating. Thirty-five nationalities were represented in the contest.

Now that wheelie ticked ’em off…

One of Facebook’s hottest forums has members slapshotting verbal pucks about players using wheel-fitted bags instead of carrying hockey equipment, wrote the Toronto Sun Feb. 14.

“When I was your age, hockey bags didn’t have f—ing wheels on them” went global in three years – with Toronto creator Leo Mastoras, 22, boasting 4,500 members.

The F-word invites skating into cyberspace, slewing up enough ice to snow the goalie. “Maybe in hindsight, I shouldn’t have used that term,” says the York University economics student and lifetime hockey devotee. “It started as a joke…. It’s all good fun.”

Mastoras launched his chat site “after talking to some guys. People all over the world responded.” Debaters aren’t welcome, he admits. “Everybody’s against the wheelie bags. It’s kind of ridiculous, seeing kids pulling these bags along.”

Run by youth, for youth

It was a treat for “Premier” Beth Duffus to be able to travel to her hometown to participate in the 41st session of the Ontario Youth Parliament (OYP), wrote the Welland Tribune Feb. 16 in a story about the model parliament run by youth, for youth.

Duffus, a York University student, said the weekend helps to educate youth about how parliament works.

Arts program celebrates milestone

Attesting to finding breaks in your own backyard is Newmarket’s Sarah Parkin, who won the vocal category in the Celebration of the Arts competition at 15 in 2003. Her $1,500 prize allowed the classical and operatic singer to enrol in a summer training program. Shortly after, she won a role in Don Giovanni at York University.

On air

  • Heidi Marsh, a PhD student who worked as part of the research team responsible for a new study that shows babies as young as six months old understand when you’re teasing them, spoke about the study on CBC Radio’s “Quirks & Quarks” and on CBC Radio Edmonton Feb. 13.
  • Lewis Molot, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about a new study of northern lakes he is conducting, on CBC Radio Thunder Bay’s “The Great Northwest” Feb. 15.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about problems at Toyota, on CBC News Network Feb. 13.
  • York music student Danica Kotsopoulos was the featured guest on Jazz.FM91’s “Jazzology” program Feb. 12.