Telus Paging Service Shutdown Questions Effectiveness of New Technologies

by Istvan Fekete on January 27, 2015

A letter sent by Telus informing recipients that it is canceling its pager service across Canada has raised concerns among some residents of Québec’s rural communities and questions how well incumbent wireless players perform in terms of wireless network coverage.

Even as cellular coverage continues to improve, there are still areas which lack a wireless service. In several municipalities in rural Québec, for example, emergency services rely on pagers, because of spotty, unreliable, or non-existent cellular coverage.

Darlene Rowsell Roberts, administrator for several Anglophone coastline villages near Labrador on Québec’s Lower North Shore, emphasized the lack of cellular coverage in some of the areas she covers, while speaking with the CBC.

To address this issue, healthcare workers and firefighters (for example) rely on the pager system for alerts of emergencies. Without the pager system, on-call volunteer firefighters and healthcare workers would have to stay home and wait by the landline phone all day.

The CRTC’s most recent communications monitoring report revealed that as of 2013, about 161,500 Canadians still have paging service subscriptions, and that the industry generated nearly $18.5 million in revenue from them.

Gary Fitzgerald, chair of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and CEO of paging service provider PageNet, said that the majority of these people are healthcare workers and first responders. They are using this service because the system works even when other technologies fail or don’t fit into the situation.

Telus, on the other hand, says paging is obsolete, and is pushing for new technologies. Since fewer and fewer people are using it, the system has reached the end of its service life, company spokeswoman Luiza Staniec says.

The system will shut down on March 31. Telus is working with customers in areas with no cellphone coverage to help them move to another paging service provider. But the more important question is: When will Telus be able to say that it covers 100% of the population?

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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