Sasktel ex­pand­ing wire­less tech­nol­ogy

Moose Jaw Express.com - - Front Page - By Scott Hellings

SaskTel in­vited mem­bers of the local busi­ness com­mu­nity to a lun­cheon at the Her­itage Inn on June 13 to dis­cuss the next wave of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and how it can ben­e­fit busi­ness. This was the third annual cus­tomer in­for­ma­tion ses­sion. A num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als rep­re­sent­ing a wide va­ri­ety of busi­nesses at­tended the pre­sen­ta­tion to learn how changes in tech­nol­ogy will af­fect the fu­ture of com­merce in Saskatchewan. One of the big­gest changes will be in the area of wire­less tech­nol­ogy. Cur­rently, SaskTel cus­tomers are on the 4G net­work, a world­wide stan­dard for cel­lu­lar net­works. Although the net­work is sup­posed to be faster, it has ex­pe­ri­enced some prob­lems due to the large, ex­po­nen­tial de­mand for data. This in­creased de­mand is largely the re­sult of the preva­lence of smart phones and the rise in pop­u­lar­ity of video ser­vices that re­quire large amounts of band­width, such as Net­flix and the video chat ser­vice Skype. “Tech­nol­ogy it­self is evolv­ing and con­sumers are de­mand­ing more,” said John Hill, chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer with SaskTel. “Faster broad­band and wire­less net­works and the new­est de­vices and mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions are caus­ing this de­mand.” To help ease this prob­lem, SaskTel can de­ploy spe­cial equip­ment known as COWS (Cel­lu­lar on Wheels). Th­ese are por­ta­ble cell sites that can be used as a tem­po­rary so­lu­tion un­til per­ma­nent sites can be con­structed. The cor­po­ra­tion also plans to usher in the next gen­er­a­tion of wire­less tech­nol­ogy, known as LTE (Long Term Evo­lu­tion). LTE will be up to five times faster than the cur­rent net­work and will also pro­vide in­creased ca­pac­ity to serve more cus­tomers. There are plans for the net­work to be de­ployed in cen­tres like Regina and Saska­toon in the fall. Within a few years, the en­tire prov­ince will be con­verted to LTE. In fact, SaskTel will soon be of­fer­ing LTE ca­pa­ble phones. When you are in an area that has LTE, the phone will make use of it but will seam­lessly drop back down to the 4G net­work when out­side the LTE area. Thus, an LTE phone can be pur­chased by any­one, re­gard­less of whether they live in an LTE area. One area that gar­nered a lot of in­ter­est was the an­nounce­ment that SaskTel plans to be­gin of­fer­ing roam­ing travel packs. Th­ese pack­ages re­duce roam­ing charges when trav­el­ling out­side of the prov­ince. In par­tic­u­lar, it will ease the in­flated roam­ing costs when trav­el­ling to the U.S. and in­ter­na­tion­ally. “We’re weeks away from launch­ing it at this point,” said Hill. Other top­ics dis­cussed in­cluded cloud com­put­ing and a new con­cept that will be rolled out over the next seven years, known as Fi­bre to the Premises (FTTP). “It is es­sen­tially tak­ing broad­band ac­cess closer to the home. Es­sen­tially you are tak­ing a fi­bre op­tic ca­ble and, rather than hav­ing it in a back al­ley or a cen­tral of­fice, you’re hook­ing it right into an in­di­vid­ual’s house. So there will be a connection on the out­side of the home,” said Hill. “[There is] quite a bit more ca­pac­ity to an in­di­vid­ual con­sumer and you’ll have your voice, TV, video, and In­ter­net ser­vices on top of that.” For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.sasktel.com or 1-800-SASKTEL (727-5835).

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