MONTREAL, Dec. 15 2004 — Bell Canada and Microsoft Canada Co. announced on Dec. 14 a strategic initiative whereby Bell will combine telecommunication services and Microsoft software-based solutions to bring Canadian small and mid-size businesses unparalleled services at affordable prices.
Bell intends to collaborate with Microsoft to develop new integrated services that will allow small and mid-sized business customers to increase their productivity and have access to reliable and secure solutions. In order to facilitate the installation of the new offering, Bell plans to develop a “Wizard-type” application through which customers will be able to easily self-activate their suite of services with a click of the mouse and enjoy the simplicity of monthly billed services.
In addition, Bell and Microsoft plan to create a joint incubation lab for the development of additional integrated services, as well as joint education customer programs that support these services.
“We are very pleased to build on our existing commercial agreement with Microsoft,” said Karen Sheriff, President, Small and Medium Business, Bell Canada. “This will enable Bell to provide leading-edge business applications that our customers can afford. This enhances Bell’s ability, as the trusted technology advisor to Canadian SMBs, to offer a simple one-stop shop for fully integrated technology and communications solutions that fit their needs, increase their efficiency and help them boost their competitive potential.”
As a first step in this initiative, Bell will offer its small and mid-size business customers a Productivity Suite , including licensed editions of Microsoft Office software or Microsoft Office Live Meeting service, along with Bell’s market-leading business telecom services such as DSL Internet connectivity, Productivity Pak, Business Back Up and Desktop PC Care. The new integrated offering will be distributed through Bell’s direct sales channels and Microsoft’s channel network across Canada. Through this package, Bell will allow small and mid-size business customers to pay for these integrated services on a monthly basis. Details on pricing and availability will be announced in early 2005.
“Technology must be accessible, affordable and easy to manage, so that small business owners can spend more time focusing on running and growing their business. Today’s announcement is designed with that in mind, to provide our small and mid-size business customers with an exciting new option to benefit from innovative, integrated IT and telecom solutions,” said Frank Clegg, President, Microsoft Canada Co. “Our joint initiative with Bell will also explore best ways to create opportunities for Microsoft Canada’s extensive technology partner and solution provider channel to implement, manage and support the new services to customers and generate fresh revenue.”
“Staying competitive, improving productivity and reducing costs are ‘top of mind’ challenges for small and mid-size businesses in Canada. With far less IT resources available in-house than large enterprises, SMBs have to rely heavily on IT partners to provide trusted advice as well as the systems and services to increase their competitive potential,” said Michelle Warren, IT Industry Analyst, Evans Research. “A service-based offering from Bell which includes Microsoft products would provide a strategic alternative to small and mid-size businesses, while opening up the potential for new revenue streams to those technology partners and solution providers.”
About Bell Canada
Bell Canada, Canada’s national leader in communications, provides connectivity to residential and business customers through wired and wireless voice and data communications, local and long distance phone services, high speed and wireless Internet access, IP-broadband services, e-business solutions and satellite television services. Bell Canada is wholly owned by BCE Inc. For more information please visit www.bell.ca .
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
CAUTION CONCERNING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain statements made in this press release are forward-looking and are subject to important risks, uncertainties and assumptions. The results or events predicted in these forward-looking statements may differ materially from actual results or events. Forward-looking statements may include words such as intend, plan and will. Factors that could cause results or events to differ materially from current expectations include, among others, the fact that the provision of certain services is conditional upon the execution of definitive agreements by Bell Canada and Microsoft Canada Co., general economic and market conditions and the demand for and prices of our services, the intensity of competitive activity and the availability and cost of capital required to fund capital and other expenditures. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release represent our expectations as of December 14, 2004 and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. However, we disclaim any intention and assume no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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