New technology wireless

NNSL (Feb 03/97) - Northerners can look forward to new technology making telecommunications "wireless" in decades to come, says NorthwesTel president Jean Poirier.

Cellular and satellite phones are gaining in popularity. And on the global scale, other countries have embraced wireless technology.

"Some countries have been devastated by war and the lines are gone. They never got into wire lines like we have. They have cellular as their main technology. Here in Canada, it's a complementary technology."

Cell phones are very popular in Mexico, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Lebanon and Europe, Poirier says.

Mobile phones are outdated and users are slowly migrating to cellular-type services, Poirier said last week in an interview.

As for TV, it will soon be available through direct-to-home satellite services.

Among the most promising technologies is Personal Communications Systems. Smaller than a cell phone, PCS will eventually replace the conventional wire line, said Poirier.

"It's fully portable -- you can be in constant communication with people. You could re-route your calls as you want, let a computer know if you're going to Europe and transfer your calls to voicemail or filter only certain calls through."

"We will know where you are at all times -- you would be connected to a network."

PCS technology is already used by some trucking companies in Canada and the United States. Companies can monitor a truck delivering material anywhere through this new communication system,.

New technology has other possibilities for the North in the areas of distance education, medicine, electronic commerce and multi-media recreation services.

But introducing these services will not be cheap, Poirier cautioned.