Wireless the wave of Whistler’s future? By Paul Andrew Two high-tech Canadian companies are leading the charge in wireless technology, and are being utilized by one Whistler business man who plans on installing the hardware on Sproat Mountain. All those in proximity of the tower will benefit from innovative devices being developed by Wi-Lan, whose head office is in Calgary, and NewBridge Networks Corporation in Kanata, Ontario. Shane Bennett of WhistlerWeb.com says the new technology will let your average wireless telephone user wander the valley within range of the tower, adding one more use to that home phone once anchored to a landline. The tower, which at one time was used exclusively as a television signal receiver and was the property of The Whistler TV Society, will now serve a much more modern purpose. The television service will remain, but it is the always evolving internet that Bennett wants to go wireless first. Telephone and cable TV will be the next traditional forms of communication to go wireless. "What my intention is, is to provide Whistler with wireless, high-speed Internet service in year-one," Bennett said last week. "Year-two I plan on supplying wireless cable TV as an option to the copper co-axial cable presently available. Year-three is to become a telephone company. The condition is, you have to be able to see Sproat Mountain." Bennett says the reason why wireless will be the way to go is because the technology has come "on line" to provide it in an affordable, practical way. One of the keys to this new wave of communication is the broadband wireless system being developed by Newbridge. The "MainstreetXpress" platform that will go in the tower will allow operators to integrate broadband wireless access into a single, multi-service, multi-access mainstation. Wi-Lan produces the other half of the service, providing a wireless modem. The technology, called spread spectrum wireless networking, is reaching the point where wireless communication will be less expensive and more reliable than any landline networks. "I’m on a shoe-string budget but there’s a lot of companies who will provide service for contra," Bennett said. "I’m kind of the David in the David and Goliath way and I have already had a lot of community volunteers helping me with the site on Sproat. It’s only accessible by helicopter." In addition, Bennett has secured the help of Whistlerite Mark Pelletier, who recently spent 18 months in China initiating and reinforcing the fledgling wireless network in that area of the world. Pelletier says to have a home phone in China is high tech in itself because of the lack of basic technology. "They haven’t got much wire in the ground," Pelletier said. "So they sometimes wait up to two years for a home telephone. Some people will go as far as setting up a kiosk in front of their homes and charge people to use the phone that way." Pelletier says that China’s citizens not only understand the lack of in-ground wiring, they also see the cell-phone as a status symbol. So even though he worked on the infrastructure for China’s cellular network, it is already being used to its maximum. "There’s a coming together of internet technology and communication, such as voice-over internet protocol, which basically lets you talk through your computer," Pelletier explained. "I’m a communications technologist. So I’m not actually employed by Shane but I’ll be doing a lot of the installation and the trouble shooting once it’s installed. "It will be an uphill struggle, because here, unlike China, there’s so much cable in the ground and you can get a phone installed in as little as a day. It is true that many people will look at cable for high speed internet access. But the problem with cable is it’s just that — one cable. It has a finite bandwidth and there’s a disadvantage with distribution." Editor’s note: www.wi-lan.com & www.newbridge.com are the sites for the techies.