Vancouver-based telco Telus has acquired 10 percent of the B.C.-Alberta television subscription market in less than a year through its rollout of Optik TV. In fact, The Vancouver Sun observed that, given Optik's infrastructure is currently only available to roughly 65 percent of the region's population, the penetration of Telus' TV service is actually closer to 15 percent. Impress performance, and Telus suggests that's because, well, it's a good product. Quoth the Sun:
"We did have a previous TV product but this one is far superior," Telus chief commercial officer Joe Natale said in an interview at Vancouver head office. "If you look at the number of homes in Western Canada, there are roughly 3.2 million homes - and we've got 10-percent market share in a short period of time ... which speaks to the excitement around the product, the capabilities of the product, and how much of an opportunity there is for it in the marketplace."
Optik is far from being a significant revenue generator for Telus, which relies heavily upon its wireless customers to earn its money. Its wireless revenue grew nine percent to carry Telus' fourth-quarter revenue to $2.55 billion, up four percent from the prior year. Despite these positive numbers and others—like earnings per share up 43 cents—analysts were disappointed over a slight decrease in wireless subscriber growth and a stagnant average cost-per-month of mobile plans. Bell too experienced similar disappointment, no doubt triggered by increased competition from the relative newbies, Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, and Public Mobile.
Optik may become a more important element of Telus' long term growth, which is why the telco aims to enhance the product:
As well as adding more communities, Optik will be increasingly competitive with conventional cable-TV providers as Telus expands its range of offerings. The company is also looking beyond conventional entertainment, using the Internet capabilities of its service to explore applications such as storing and viewing of family photos and videos, and interactive games and related entertainment similar to those you'd find on the Web. You can already use your smartphone to feed programming instructions to Optik. Natale wants to expand that technology so you can use mobile devices to play content you've stored on the video recorder/TV tuner at home.
The mobile space will become even tighter once the government auctions off more of its spectrum in 2012, opening the doors to even more competitors. But at the same time, the current newbies will become available for purchase by the giants—or Wind, which has major financial backing from foreign sources, could snatch the startups and turn Canada's Big Three into a Big Four. That is, of course, assuming it can survive legal battles resulting from its foreign support.