Interest rates, struggling TV to put pressure on Canada’s telecoms in 2017: analyst

Interest rates, struggling TV to put pressure on Canada’s telecoms in 2017: analyst

Interest rate volatility and challenges in the television sector are expected to put pressure on Canada’s telecom stocks in 2017, according to an annual outlook report from Desjardins Capital Markets analysts.

Since telecom stocks have a strong inverse relationship with interest rates, president-elect Donald Trump’s nod to inflationary policies could hurt telecoms that have enjoyed a low interest rate environment for years, Desjardins analyst Maher Yaghi and associate Jerome Dubreuil forecast for next year.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is forecasting three rate hikes next year, but global central banks are generally expected to keep rates low, indicating that telecoms will still attract dividend-seeking investors, they wrote. The analysts expect revenue and EBITDA growth of 2.6 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively.

“We believe the industry’s steady and predictable growth continues to be highly prized by investors looking to hedge the more volatile parts of their portfolio,” the report stated.

Given the slightly higher risk in its calculations, Desjardins lowered the price targets for Bell ($64.50 from $67.50), Rogers ($57.50 from $61) and Telus ($49 from $50). It did, however, upgrade Bell’s rating to buy from hold given the new valuation. Ratings for Rogers and Telus remained stable at hold and buy, respectively.

But growth in the wireless and Internet segments may be subdued by increasing challenges in the TV sector, Desjardins predicted, pointing to online video streaming, the waning appeal of sports channels and changes in viewer behaviour.

Over-the-top streaming services such as Netflix have enhanced their offerings by letting consumers download shows to watch offline later and Amazon Prime Video launched in Canada this month, giving consumers another option.

“The possible launch of a live TV service delivered over the Internet by YouTube would be another headwind for TV service providers, as an increased number of channels offering access to live content at a low price could hamper both (average revenue per user) and subscriber metrics,” they wrote.

On top of that, sports channels – the desire to watch live games is generally viewed as one of the main reasons people keep their TV subscriptions – may not be as sticky as they once were.

Desjardins noted that a recent Forbes report estimated ESPN lost 4 per cent of its subscribers this year, an acceleration of the 3 per cent subscriber loss Disney reported between 2014 and 2015.

The latest CRTC reports show that major sports network subscribers declined by 1.5 per cent over the same period, though the analysts noted that telecom trends in Canada typically lag behind the U.S. by one to two years.

Regardless, the analysts are adopting a more bearish stance on TV given CRTC data that shows the number of hours of television watched has declined 3 per cent since 2009-2010. The most notable declines came from the 12-17 and 18-34 age categories, which analysts said could indicate the industry’s long-term prospects.

On the plus side, analysts expect major players will continue to grow their average revenue per user when it comes to the wireless market.

Shaw’s Freedom Mobile still doesn’t have the handsets or network quality to compete with the incumbents in B.C., Alberta or Ontario, Desjardins wrote, which should reduce the competitive pressure from a fourth player until 2018.

 

Source: Financial Post

7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2017

7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2017

Personally, I’m amazed at the technology we have available to us. It’s astounding to have the power to retrieve almost any information and communicate in a thousand different ways using a device that fits in your pocket.

There’s always something new on the horizon, and we can’t help but wait and wonder what technological marvels are coming next.

The way I see it, there are seven major tech trends we’re in store for in 2017. If you’re eyeing a sector in which to start a business, any of these is a pretty good bet. If you’re already an entrepreneur, think about how you can leverage these technologies to reach your target audience in new ways.

1. IoT and Smart Home Tech.

We’ve been hearing about the forthcoming revolution of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and resulting interconnectedness of smart home technology for years. So what’s the holdup? Why aren’t we all living in smart, connected homes by now? Part of the problem is too much competition, with not enough collaboration—there are tons of individual appliances and apps on the market, but few solutions to tie everything together into a single, seamless user experience. Now that bigger companies already well-versed in uniform user experiences (like Google, Amazon, and Apple) are getting involved, I expect we’ll see some major advancements on this front in the coming year.

2. AR and VR.

We’ve already seen some major steps forward for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology in 2016. Oculus Rift was released, to positive reception, and thousands of VR apps and games followed. We also saw Pokémon Go, an AR game, explode with over 100 million downloads. The market is ready for AR and VR, and we’ve already got some early-stage devices and tech for these applications, but it’s going to be next year before we see things really take off. Once they do, you’ll need to be ready for AR and VR versions of practically everything—and ample marketing opportunities to follow.

3. Machine Learning.

Machine learning has taken some massive strides forward in the past few years, even emerging to assist and enhance Google’s core search engine algorithm. But again, we’ve only seen it in a limited range of applications. Throughout 2017, I expect to see machine learning updates emerge across the board, entering almost any type of consumer application you can think of, from offering better recommended products based on prior purchase history to gradually improving the user experience of an analytics app. It won’t be long before machine learning becomes a kind of “new normal,” with people expecting this type of artificial intelligence as a component of every form of technology.

4. Automation.

Marketers will be (mostly) pleased to learn that automation will become a bigger mainstay in and throughout 2017, with advanced technology enabling the automation of previously human-exclusive tasks. We’ve had robotic journalists in circulation for a couple of years now, and I expect it won’t be long before they make another leap into more practical types of articles. It’s likely that we’ll start seeing productivity skyrocket in a number of white-collar type jobs—and we’ll start seeing some jobs disappear altogether. When automation is combined with machine learning, everything can improve even faster, so 2017 has the potential to be a truly landmark year.

5. Humanized Big Data. (visual, empathetic, qualitative)

Big data has been a big topic for the past five years or so, when it started making headlines as a buzzword. The idea is that mass quantities of gathered data—which we now have access to—can help us in everything from planning better medical treatments to executing better marketing campaigns. But big data’s greatest strength—its quantitative, numerical foundation—is also a weakness. In 2017, I expect we’ll see advancements to humanize big data, seeking more empathetic and qualitative bits of data and projecting it in a more visualized, accessible way.

6. Physical-Digital Integrations.

Mobile devices have been slowly adding technology into our daily lives. It’s rare to see anyone without a smartphone at any given time, giving us access to practically infinite information in the real-world. We already have things like site-to-store purchasing, enabling online customers to buy and pick up products in a physical retail location, but the next level will be even further integrations between physical and digital realities. Online brands like Amazon will start having more physical products, like Dash Buttons, and physical brands like Walmart will start having more digital features, like store maps and product trials.

7. Everything On-Demand.

Thanks to brands like Uber (and the resulting madness of startups built on the premise of being the “Uber of ____”), people are getting used to having everything on demand via phone apps. In 2017, I expect this to see this develop even further. We have thousands of apps available to us to get rides, food deliveries, and even a place to stay for the night, but soon we’ll see this evolve into even stranger territory.

Anyone in the tech industry knows that making predictions about the course of technology’s future, even a year out, is an exercise in futility. Surprises can come from a number of different directions, and announced developments rarely release as they’re intended.

Still, it pays to forecast what’s coming next so you can prepare your marketing strategies (or your budget) accordingly. Whatever the case may be, it’s still fun to think about everything that’s coming next.

 

Source: Forbes

Young Canadians are bringing wearable tech to video games and ERs

Young Canadians are bringing wearable tech to video games and ERs

Wearable tech companies in Canada are going far beyond fitness bracelets in the race to own the market

Wearable technology at OCAD. (OCAD)

While American companies are launching fitness-tracking bracelets every few months, young Canadians are bringing wearable technology into emergency rooms and video games through complex coding and creative 3-D printing. “There’s a lot of emerging opportunities in the field,” says Kate Hartman, director of the Social Body Lab at OCAD University.

In a single day of classes, students at the OCADU lab might be handling circuits and motors to understand how computers work, reading books about how technology can improve society and using a laser or 3-D printer to make a physical prototype.

Last year, undergraduate students worked with video-game juggernaut Ubisoft on ways to improve body suits used by game designers to create realistic graphics. Graduate students have created art installations, medical devices and fashion accessories.

Thanks to decreasing production costs, Hartman sees the industry moving toward individually tailored medical and mobility aids. They can “work on that much smaller scale, and design some things specifically for one person and their abilities,” she says.

Wearables are emerging from universities without specific courses. “We don’t have a program called ‘wearable tech,’ ” says Concordia University’s Joanna Berzowska, associate professor of design and computation arts. “But students work with wearable technology, producing projects that are aesthetically interesting and technically accomplished,” she says.

Berzowska is part of Montreal’s pioneering efforts in clothing-based technology through OMsignal, a company that has hired graduate students to help design a biometric-sensing shirt for Ralph Lauren.

Her undergraduates have also studied human-generated power by designing “sprung-block” platform shoes that contain a specially designed battery that stores power from walking.

In Toronto, a University of Toronto electrical and computer-engineering project spawned the Nymi Band, a bracelet that measures heartbeat rhythms, which MasterCard is testing for payment verifications. Outside of academia, the Muse headband tracks brainwaves and concentration, and connects to a smartphone app that suggests music choices and optimal meditation times.

On the West Coast, mechatronics systems engineering students at Simon Fraser University’s Technology Entrepreneurship centre are working on a hockey-metric tracking system through a bracelet that measures players’ shots.

Canadian start-ups are going beyond the fitness-gadget craze and “finding the unique problems that we want to solve,” says Tom Emrich, a wearable technology expert based in San Francisco.

Adrian Straka, hardware and manufacturing director for Myant in Toronto, which has created reflective athletic clothing with embedded lights, says a recent grad should expect to make between $50,000 and $60,000 if they join a start-up that has secured investor funding, while a newer start-up might offer $40,000 to $45,000 with an equity stake. “To be hired, you really have to have experience, through a co-op or internship. Even being part of a team that makes a solar car will make you more attractive,” he says. “Wearables let you investigate new worlds. I wake up every day thinking of what’s possible.”

Source: Macleans

How the Internet of Things is changing the face of business

How the Internet of Things is changing the face of business

With the adoption of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, the Internet of Things (IoT) is already part of our home lives.

Many of us also use a smart thermostat to monitor the temperature of our living rooms, and maybe even a smart doorbell to keep an eye on the front porch.

But what about beyond our homes and yards? The IoT promises to change many aspects of our lives, so I asked 14 entrepreneurs from YEC the following question:

What technologies do you think are likely to change the way people do business?

1. WebRTC 

I definitely believe embedding communications via WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) will be the next big thing for businesses, especially since it directly affects our rate of communication and in turn our rate of efficiency. Anything that will make life easier will affect our productivity and is going to be here to stay. – Phil LaboonWUDN

2. Big data and machine learning 

Big Data and machine learning may not be easy to visualize like autonomous cars or 3D printing, but it’s one of the most impactful sets of technologies affecting business. Big Data and the machine learning algorithms that are being applied to handle such massive volumes of information are not only providing consumer-centric services that are better than before, but also empowering B2B companies to operate faster and more efficiently. Over the next few years, expect Big Data and machine learning to continue transforming how we share and transact. – Doreen BlochPoshly Inc.

3. Driverless cars 

There’s a reason why “driverless” is the new buzz word: It’s going to completely disrupt daily travel and make the world a much more productive and safe place. Hundreds of thousands of people commute to New York City every day to work, and many of them drive cars. When you are driving a car you aren’t nearly as productive as you would be if you didn’t have to drive. Driverless cars allow you to multitask between phone calls, editing or creating documents, and generally getting work done. It will be like working from your office, and you will be less likely to get into an accident. – Kristopher JonesLSEO.com

4. 3D printing 

Once 3D printing takes more of a hold on the business world, you’ll be able to prototype products with just the touch of a few buttons (saving time and money). Manufacturing should become much more streamlined and cost-effective, and businesses will have the ability to customize its products to meet specific customer needs with ease. – Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

5. Onboarding bots 

Crafting a great onboarding experience should be done with the same level of scrupulous attention that we invest in other things. Ben Horowitz often talks about the importance of putting at least as much effort into a new hire’s onboarding experience as you do during the recruiting process itself. In my observations, we founders don’t do a thorough enough job here. Sloppy onboarding turns into sloppy culture. Employee onboarding is in the DNA of admired companies, so bots can help users properly curate the onboarding process making it consumable, delivering it to you quickly on your phone. – Ryan StonerPhenomenon

6. ToT e-Commerce 

With more and more electronic items being connected through the IoT, consumers will have an opportunity to use that connection to make quick buying decisions. Imagine looking inside your refrigerator and seeing that you’re low on a staple item. Now imagine if you could order that item online right from your refrigerator panel. Amazon is capitalizing on this with their Dash Button. As more of our lives are connected through the IoT, we’ll be able to automate routine tasks like buying staples and supplies that take time away from what’s important: our family and our businesses. – Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

7. Voice UI 

Amazon’s Alexa is the first piece of technology that has truly opened up the potential for voice interactions because it really works the way you expect. It’s just a matter of time before our new habits start to trickle into our work lives. Voice UI is going to become more and more trusted in business environments – especially in communal areas. We’re going to order supplies, buy lunch for the team, start conference calls, dim lights for demos, and more. Overall it’s the social aspect of voice and it’s marriage with IoT that’s going to to enhance and change our business environments. – Marat StarygetPartnered

8. Data-driven decision making 

There are many emerging technologies that are changing the way people do business. The more data that is available, the more qualified decisions can be made. There is a lot of information available that has not been formatted in a meaningful way. One example is the growing argument of how big physical storefronts should be versus online inventory. Retailers are shifting towards carrying more product online as more and more information is collected. – Jayna CookeEVENTup

9. Augmented Reality 

Imagine test driving a car or swimming with dolphins from your home. The sounds of an engine or the ocean make it seem like you are immersed in a world that in fact is only an augmented reality. Augmented reality will have a huge impact on how businesses operate and allow for new and innovative ways to buy and sell products and experiences. – Obinna EkezieWakanow.com

10. Virtual assistants 

Virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Now and Alexa are changing the way we search for products and services. More and more people are using VAs on mobile devices instead of navigating to a desktop search engine. This will reshape the advertising and marketing industries as marketers continue to look for new ways to get in front of an audience that isn’t browsing the web on desktop computers. – Guillermo OrtizGeek Powered Studios

11. Predictive maintenance 

The most exciting IoT opportunity this year is predictive maintenance rather than preventative maintenance. Business machines (pumps, vehicles, manufacturing lines, etc.) have routine preventative maintenance to prevent breakdowns and stoppages. Stoppages are costly and preventative maintenance replaces parts before their useful life comes. However, this method is wasteful, costly and unpredictable. By combining IoT and machine learning we can start to predict machine breakdowns before they happen. Big companies like IBM for manufacturing lines, and new startups like Preteckt in long-haul trucking, are pioneering the space. – Eric MathewsStart Co.

12. Workplace automation 

Trends related to automation across the workplace, like smart technology around how people sit and stand at work, are going to take off. Some of us have wearables today that say, “Hey it’s time to get up, it’s time to walk around,” but I would love to see our chairs, desks, and lamps adjust during the day for our comfort level, for our need to be mobile, and for our need to be able to focus. This will help combat the mid-afternoon slump. – Cassandra BaileySlice Communications

13. RFID and Bluetooth devices in warehouse operations 

Networked RFID and Bluetooth devices are changing the way inventories are handled in warehouses. They can help to expedite and automate order processing so that customers get their products faster. I think this is the biggest development that will change how online retail businesses do business over the coming year. – Zev Herman, Superior Lighting

14. Chatbots 

Businesses will be marketing to and servicing consumers through conversational messaging bots on platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Apple iMessenger and Slack. These programmed chatbots will recommend products, answer questions and even tell jokes. Furthermore, they will also provide engaging 24/7 customer service at a lower cost. – Adelyn ZhouTOPBOTS

Source: The Next Web

2017 Predictions: Behind the scenes with 5G – 2017 lays groundwork for telecom revolution

2017 Predictions: Behind the scenes with 5G – 2017 lays groundwork for telecom revolution

5G is set to be a revolution for the telecommunications space, with 2017 viewed as an important year in the development process.

Editor’s Note: With 2017 virtually upon us, RCR Wireless News has gathered predictions from across the mobile telecommunications space on what they expect to see in the new year.

As readers of RCR Wireless News know, overnight sensations in technology simply do not happen. Every major commercial advancement in telecom, for instance, has always reached the market after long gestation in labs, standards work and real-world trials. So it will be for the next wave of innovation in the mobile telecom world, which we refer to as “5G.”

The “G” in 5G, of course, stands for “generation,” but in this case the difference between 4G and 5G is not adequately conveyed by the term “next-generation,” and 5G most certainly cannot be conceived of as a mere iteration of what has gone before. Though technologies supporting 4G will be present in 5G, the leap in capabilities will be truly revolutionary, not evolutionary. The gradual commercialization of 5G forecasted to begin around 2020 – that is, a mere three to four years away – will provide advancements that will make 4G’s capabilities look positively ancient.

So you can imagine that predictions for 2017 must include the practical steps largely taking place out of the public eye that will make 5G a reality in a few short years. Let’s look behind the curtain at 5G’s expected capabilities and what has to take place, both generally over the next few years as well as specifically what we know will be addressed in 2017.

5G’s expected capabilities

To keep it simple, 5G advancements and its implications for mobile data networks can be understood in the familiar terms of data rates and bandwidth; flexible network capabilities; and low latency. Massive improvements in all three categories will support innovation for decades to come.

Historically, cellular network data rates increase 10-times every five years. When 5G capabilities are realized, data speeds are expected to initially increase by 10-times, but later jump about 1,000-times compared to today. Let your own imagination play with that notion. We all experience current limitations every day and that will change.

More flexible network capabilities in 5G will enable the ubiquitous sensors and networks of networks that will comprise the “internet of things,” a term that describes the useful interconnectedness of everyday objects as well as advanced automation that will offer efficiencies and even predictive insights for everyday life.

Significant advancements in reducing latency will enable us to build infrastructure for remote controls, which I refer to as the “tactile internet” and will allow tactile interaction with virtual environments with a reaction time in one to 10 milliseconds. That level of latency will provide a person in one place with the ability to control things in another place – or a virtual world – as if they were there. The virtual, tactile internet will mimic reality. It will also enable machines to control mobile machines reliably over the network.

Mobile data networks in the 5G world will handle 10,000-times the traffic they handle today. They will enable data-hungry applications and services that depend on ultra-high-definition streaming and 3D- and hologram-related apps will be possible. Wireless spectrum above 5 GHz will generate solutions for a massive increase in bandwidth and also for a latency of less than 1 ms, with implications for strongly expanding multiple-input/multiple-output antenna technology that currently supports Wi-Fi, WiMAX and LTE. Network virtualization will become a standard approach, and cloud and big data analytics will be greatly enhanced.

Many readers of RCR Wireless News toil in the commercial domain of products and services that appeal to connected residents of developed nations. But nearly half of the world’s approximately 7 billion people do not have access to the internet. So one challenge of making 5G technology manifest in years to come must be addressed: extending its capabilities to the three-plus billion unconnected people for education, health care and participation in the global community that can spread economic prosperity.

To me that’s one of the most important challenges – and responsibilities – for those of us developing 5G. But, of course, there are numerous technical hurdles to overcome and we’ll be addressing those hurdles in 2017 and beyond.

Hurdles to commercialization

As noted, advancements take time. Yes, we’re likely to see 5G begin to roll out by 2020, but its full potential is expected to develop over decades. And only if we meet its challenges head on.

Those challenges include the need to define standards to insure interoperability; to meet the wide range of requirements for myriad, disparate applications, to ensure reliability and security requirements; to support expectations for energy efficiency in sensors, networks and other areas; and to achieve all of this with an eye to costs and use and business cases.

Specifics in 2017

Because the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Future Directions 5G Initiative has specific 5G work underway with schedules and real-world expectations for outcomes in 2017, there’s no need to resort to wild predictions.

As a global technology, 5G will require global coordination and consensus in many technical, social and political arenas, thus our series of 5G summits that began in 2015. The first in 2017 will be held Jan. 19 in Lisbon, Portugal, followed by one in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on a date to be determined. Eight more summits are planned for 2017, including ones in Finland, Japan, Canada, Colombia, South Africa, Taiwan, Germany and the U.K.

We will hold three 5G tutorials on three different continents during the first quarter of 2017, and an IEEE 5G Learning Series event on Jan. 9 in Bangalore, India.

The IEEE Future Directions 5G Initiative has established nine working groups, including ones addressing standards and a technology roadmap. In keeping with this pragmatic approach, a 5G Technology Roadmap Project is working to identify short- (approximately 3 years), mid- (around 5 years) and long-term (approximately 10 years) research, innovation and technology trends affecting the 5G ecosystem.

Of course, private and public research and development on 5G’s challenges progresses apace.

The best thing about predictions relative to 5G for 2017? If you are interested in the amazing potential of this technology to benefit humanity – or “just” its commercial potential to introduce a decades-long wave of innovation – opportunities abound to shape 5G’s myriad outcomes by joining our efforts.

Source: RCR Wireless

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