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This article was published 4/5/2012 (2815 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A small Montreal company wants to shake up the television distribution business in Canada, proposing a coast-to-coast IPTV (Internet protocol TV) service.
Colba.Net Telecom Inc. has two applications in front of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for regional broadcasting licences covering major cities in Quebec and Ontario, and one for major cities in Western Canada — including Winnipeg — and the Maritimes.
The company currently operates only in greater Montreal as a reseller of Bell's IPTV service. That service began at the beginning of 2012.
IPTV is the platform MTS uses to offer its television service.
Colba has operated as an Internet service provider in Montreal since 1996 and at the end of 2011, had 3,168 subscribers to that service.
The CRTC has scheduled hearings for the applications on May 7 for Ontario and Quebec and June 7 for Western Canada and the Maritimes.
Although the company and its proposed service across the country have not caught the attention of industry analysts, some say the service could provide a rare option to major television providers.
Joseph Bassili, president and CEO of Colba.Net, said, "We do not expect many hurdles because the CRTC has said it wants competition."
Asked how he intends to break into the market, Bassili said, "That's simple, we'll offer more channels for a lower price."
But it would seem to be a significant marketing challenge for a small company with 27 employees whose 2011 revenue was $3.2 million.
Bassili would not elaborate on how aggressively the company intends to market the service if and when it gets a licence, other than to say the company intends to invest millions of dollars in the effort.
He said he has not signed any agreements with the incumbent telcos and it does not intend to offer high-speed Internet service. Customers will need to subscribe to an Internet service to be able to receive Colba.Net's proposed television service.
A spokesperson for Manitoba Telecom Services said, "We do not know much about the company and they are certainly not high on our radar. We do not have to resell our TV service to them. We do offer a regulated wholesale Internet service."
MTS was one of the early adopters of the IPTV technology and at the end of last year had 95,476 IPTV subscribers.
One industry analyst said, "Many resellers have tried and none have succeeded. This is a scale game now."
Colba.Net's licence application is seeking authorization to distribute a full complement of channels similar to ones other service providers offer.
Colba.Net Telecom shares trade on the CNSX exchange.
The Bassili family also owns a Montreal-area company called Colba Laboratories that makes a range of natural health products, including food supplements, bath products and hair-care products.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.