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Verizon and Sprint use promotions to capture market share

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With US’ big four wireless carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint — embroiled in intense competition, market trends are forcing them to find creative ways to retain and attract customers.

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The US smartphone market is nearing saturation: Penetration hit 85% in 2018, up from 82% in 2017 and 77% in 2016. As such, the pool for new mobile customers is shrinking, leading carriers to seek ways to lure customers away from competitors.

However, carriers have also stepped away from using pricing as their main way of promoting services and keeping current customers loyal. This is because carriers can only reduce prices so much before they experience the negative effects of shrinking margins. Instead, they’re utilizing promotions and rewards to make products and services appetizing to consumers; the latest firms to deploy this strategy are Verizon and Sprint.

  • Verizon plans to attach Apple Music access to two of its unlimited mobile phone plans without any additional costs to consumers, reports 9to5Mac. While Verizon has previously offered customers a six-month Apple Music trial on select plans, this extension will give ongoing access to new and existing customers on Verizon’s Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited plans. For context, individual plans for Apple Music cost users $9.99 a month. Given the popularity of the music streaming service — Apple Music now has over 56 million users — this perk could become an effective tool to draw in new customers.
  • Sprint launched an app-based rewards program, dubbed My Sprint Rewards, earlier this week. The program gives Sprint customers access to a number of perks, including a marketplace that houses thousands of discounts from popular brands. Users will also have the opportunity to earn cash back, anywhere from 3% to 20% on select purchases.

Although US carriers need to continue exploring new ways to attract and retain customers in the face of declining loyalty, they can’t forget about the basics.

When asked what mobile features were most important to them, four of the top five responses were related to a carrier’s network and coverage: 81% of respondents said a high-speed network is one of the most important features, 73% listed coverage where they live, and 33% wanted coverage when they were traveling internationally, according to Business Insider Intelligence’s 2018 Digital Telecom Consumer survey.

Without an extensive and strong network that provides optimum coverage, it won’t matter if a user gets free music or a discount at their local retailer.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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