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Wireless Resolutions

The start of any new year is the perfect time to think about how your company uses assets and services.


January 1, 2007  


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By the time you read this, all of us should have recovered from the annual round of holiday parties that are a feature of any December in Canada. Between personal and business engagements, the social calendar is full at the end of the year.

As I write this, it is high season: I’m still bouncing back from a Hill & Knowlton media bash, and my wife and I are preparing to host 70 or so graduate history students and significant others at an end-of-term bash, so I expect January to be very low key.

Never mind the “end of one year, beginning of the next” routine: merely surviving the holiday season is reason enough to reflect on the last 12 months and make plans for the next.

“Good for you,” I hear you say, “but what does this have to do with wireless?”

I’m glad you asked. Since we traditionally make resolutions at this time of year, I’ll provide a couple of wireless ones for you here.

I resolve to never settle: Today, “wireless” plays a critical role in any business. It’s no longer just mobile phones and pagers. Knowledge workers use wirelessly enabled PDAs to check e-mail; sales, logistics and field service personnel rely on wireless terminals for information and the tools they need to do their work.

And, increasingly, wireless systems connect computers and other devices into networks in our offices.

Therefore, the start of any new year is the perfect time to think about how your company uses wireless assets and services, and whether there’s room for improvement.

It is particularly relevant this year, as wireless number portability should be introduced in a number of markets in March.

So, examine your company’s use of wireless and ask some critical questions: Are you getting the best rate plans, services, and devices from your suppliers? Is there another rate plan, service or device that you should be using? Is there an application currently in use by your company that would benefit from mobility?

I resolve to stay current: Wireless is one of the fastest-growing technology sectors, and therefore staying current is the best way to receive the maximum benefits from your services and equipment. This includes not only staying on top of technology, but also doing your homework on how others are using it.

One way to find out more is to join, or form, a wireless user group in your area. For its last meeting of 2006, the Toronto Wireless User Group (www.torwug.org) presented three case studies on wireless in the corporate environment.

I resolve to learn from others: I was particularly intrigued by a presentation from John McDonald, chief technology officer of blueC 802 Inc. (The presentation, along with many other useful case studies, is available online at the TorWUG web site.)

Kitchener-based blueC 802 overhauled an in-building wireless phone system for Toyoda Gosei, an auto-parts manufacturing plant in Palmerston, Ont.

Toyoda Gosei’s existing system was installed in the 1990s, making it ancient by wireless standards: Handsets were wearing out, spare parts were hard to come by, and the batteries no longer held a charge.

blueC 802 delivered a new system employing its own PBX bridge for wireless phones, in-building coverage enhancers from SpotWave Wireless of Ottawa, and GSM wireless devices and service from Rogers Wireless.

It delivers the desired in-building telephone service of the old system, plus so much more. For example, the handsets can be used outside the plant, allowing Toyoda Gosei supervisors to remain in touch at any time.

As well, handsets can be upgraded every three years, meaning the system will continue to evolve in step with wireless technology. Hard to find parts and dead batteries will be a thing of the past.

I resolve to enjoy wireless: Finally, as I write this, a study has just been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that suggests mobile phone use does not increase the risk of tumors in the head or neck.

Researchers from the Danish Institute of Cancer Epidemiology base their conclusion on research involving more than 420,000 mobile phone users.

The data goes back to 1982, and includes 56,000 people that have used mobiles for at least a decade.

Those who remain concerned should consider a hands-free headset for their phone. But for most, including wireless addicts and the industry itself, this piece of potentially good news is the perfect way to start the New Year.

All the best for 2007.

Trevor Marshall is a Toronto-based reporter, writer and observer of the Canadian wireless industry. He can be reached (on his mobile) at 416-878-7730 or trevor@words-tm.com.