By Andrew Mitchell
Last week Telus announced plans to offer wireless high speed Internet in Whistler, offering customers and clients the ability to access the web, e-mail and other online services through compatible devices.
“Telus is excited to bring Wireless High Speed to Whistler, one of the hottest tourist destinations in the country and the home of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival,” said Robert Blumenthal, senior vice president of products and services for Telus. “By uniting the broadband speed of our wireless high speed network with the newest portable computing and entertainment devices, Telus is providing clients in Vancouver, Whistler and urban centres across Canada with the most powerful mobile data solutions available.”
While Whistler already has several wireless services and hot spots Telus believes their service, which launched in November, will offer customers several benefits.
The service is based on the CDMA 1xEVDO standard, a third generation wireless technology, and uses the cellular network to provide broadband.
Some upgrading was required to the Telus cellular network to accommodate EVDO, but for subscribers it will mean that broadband is available anywhere you have cell phone coverage.
“Where we have EVDO infrastructure, people can enjoy transfer rates of 400 to 700 kilobits a second, and when you’re outside of that cellular footprint you can still get wireless internet over our 1X network at 80 to 100 kilobits,” explained Chris Langdon, vice president of wireless solutions for Telus. “You don’t have to worry about what network you’re connecting to, as subscribers will automatically be connected to the best network available.”
Another advantage of the technology is that a subscription is not limited to hot areas, but is portable. In other words subscribers can use their account to access Telus wireless networks in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Toronto, Montreal, Mont Tremblant, St. Jovite and Quebec City. Telus also has plans to expand service into other urban areas through 2006.
The service is priced competitively with other wireless networks, says Langdon, and can be fully utilized by most next generation music- and video-enabled cell phones and BlackBerry devices. Laptops will need a special card that can communicate with the EVDO system, which are available starting at around $99.
“You can access the new music service LG phone we introduced in March to get full track musical downloads, you get mobile TV, wireless high speed computing. All are enabled and for people already using these things the experience we’re offering is more robust.”
Whistler is rapidly becoming one of the most connected towns anywhere with an already crowded market of wireless services available. Visitors and residents in the village can already access Yodel, which is co-owned by the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and Whistler Cable’s own Whooshnet Wireless Service. In addition, Tranzeo is beaming a high-speed microwave broadband service to a growing number of clients throughout the village and valley.
There are also several other smaller companies offering wireless service in smaller areas, and there’s a strong possibility that Bell Canada will also be entering the market once they run a high speed fiber optic line up to Whistler as part of the company’s Olympic commitment.
Still, Landon feels that the ability to roam and competitive pricing will ensure a niche for Telus’s service in Whistler.
“The key advantage is now you can take it anywhere,” he said.