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Canadian wireless prices down, still higher than most G7 countries

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An annual snapshot of telecom services taken for the federal government shows a year-over-year decline in Canadian wireless prices but, as usual, concludes that most G7 countries had less expensive packages.

« While progress is being made, prices in Canada remain expensive compared to other nations, » the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), which commissioned the study, said in a statement.

For example, Canadian plans with two gigabytes per month of data cost an average of $75.44 per month when the 2018 survey was conducted in June and July, down from $81.61 per month in 2017.

The study also compares higher and lower levels of service, but wireless plans with 2 GB of data are a good benchmark because they reflect the usage patterns of many Canadians.

The report found the average price in four midsized American cities was nearly 20 per cent lower than the Canadian average, at $61.26 for plans with 2 GB of data on a currency-adjusted basis.

Prices for 2 GB plans were even lower in Berlin ($45.80), Paris ($30.91), London ($26.56), and Rome ($21.11). Only Tokyo was more expensive at $81.52 — the only city studied that showed a year-over-year increase.

In Australia — the only non-G7 country covered by the annual study — the currency-adjusted price of $24.70 in Sydney was less than one-third the Canadian average price for a Level 4 service that includes 2 GB of data.

The study segmented the wireless market into six levels of service. Level 1 — with only talking time and no text or data — cost an average of $25.73, and Level 6  — feature-rich family plans with at least 10 GB of shared data — costing an average of $227.87 per month.

Wireless industry outlines study’s shortcomings

Key players in Canada’s wireless industry, however, argue there have been serious shortcomings with the annual study, prepared for the federal government since 2008.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, which represents most of the country’s major carriers, said that it’s pleased that ISED recognizes that prices for wireless services are coming down in Canada.

« We remain concerned, however, that this study doesn’t provide an accurate comparison of wireless services between countries given it doesn’t take into account the many, many different promotions offered by Canada’s service providers as they vigorously compete for customers, » CWTA said in an email statement.

While the study also compares higher and lower levels of service, wireless plans with 2 GB of data are a good benchmark because they reflect the usage patterns of many Canadians. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

Similarly, a report from NERA Economic Consulting, commissioned by Telus Corp., which isn’t a CWTA member, argues that the official Canadian study is poorly designed and subject to incorrect interpretations.

« It really makes very little sense because it compares [the prices of] entirely different plans, » NERA managing director Christian Dippon said in an interview, prior to ISED’s release of this year’s report.

Dippon reached that conclusion after examining earlier reports prepared from 2008 through 2017 by either Wall or the Nordicity Group, using parameters set by either the government or the federal telecom regulator.

The NERA study proposes an alternative methodology that compares Canadian plans to a benchmark that purports to measure how much international providers would charge for the same level of service.

According to NERA, 89 of 111 Canadian mobile wireless plans in its sample were below their international benchmark.

The press secretary for ISED Minister Navdeep Bains said he wasn’t available to comment on the report Friday.

In a statement, Bains said: « We’re working hard to bring down the cost of cellphone plans. And while we’re making progress, our government remains focused on promoting greater competition in the telecom sector to drive down prices for Canadians, while making sure they can also benefit from the latest technology and high-quality services. »

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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