Thursday November 27, 2014

Addressing the demand for faster data

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Photo by John Cairns

Ron Styles, CEO of SaskTel, spoke about the changes coming to their product line and service delivery in an address to Battlefords Rotary Club Monday at Northland Power Curling Centre.

The fast-changing field of Internet and wireless delivery was the subject matter for the CEO of SaskTel before the Battlefords Rotary Club Monday.

Ron Styles spoke to the noon-hour gathering about the activities at SaskTel and some of the changes and enhancements made the service provided.

A focus of the presentation was how SaskTel is adapting to the delivery of wireless data to customers across the province. Styles noted the demand for data services — and for greater speed — keeps growing and he outlined the ways SaskTel has tried to meet that demand with the expansion of its networks.

He said the company had moved from delivery by copper lines to fibre delivery, and outlined the moves being made towards an LTE wireless network.

Their 4G LTE network was launched in 2013 at up to 100 Mbps with expected download speeds of 10-15 Mbps.

SaskTel’s other wireless networks — 4G and CDMA — are expected to drop off in use. It is likely CDMA will be shut down in 2015 or 2016, Styles said. The 4G network usage has already peaked, Styles noted, and is expected to continue to fall off while LTE continues to expand.

Unlike 4G, LTE handles data only at the moment, it does not handle voice calls. Styles said that will change: starting in 2014-15 Voiceover LTE will come to the market and “your voice is actually going to become data.”

That will eventually mean a change in the way customers will be billed.

“Eventually you’re not going to buy minutes. You’re going to buy packages of data,” said Styles.

He didn’t have a lot to say about telephones, one core product of SaskTel. Styles made the point telephones were no longer a major part of their business. Their main business now is ICT — information communications and technology.

Enhancing that service continues to be a focus for the corporation. Styles talked about the rollout across the province of infiNET, SaskTel’s new fibre optic network, which was set to launch Tuesday in Prince Albert. The service is already in Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw and is touted as bringing fibre right to the home, allowing for download speeds of up to 260 mbps and uploading speeds up to 60 mpbs.

The plan is to connect all SaskTel High Speed and maxTV customers by 2015 in that city and to eventually bring infiNET to other communities including the Battlefords. Styles could not give an exact year when it would arrive, but would only say it would be fully in place by 2020.

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