Sasktel expanding wireless technology
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).