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The Sault still waiting for extension of service.

The Sault still waiting for extension of service

It is only a matter of time now before cellular phone service is offered in Sault Ste. Marie.

However, neither Bell Cellular nor Cantel have set a date for implementing the service. In Northern Ontario the service is currently only available in Sudbury, North Bay and Thunder Bay.

All Robtaille, Cantel's regional sales manager, suggests that the service may be extended to the Sault next summer, but the company must first fine-tune the service connection it recently made between Sudbury and Barrie.

Prior to July 1 Sudbury was connected to North Bay along Hwy. 17 and North Bay was connected to Barrie along Cantel's Hwy. 11 corridor.

Bell Cellular closed the service loop between the three centres at a cost of approximately $20 million and, according to communications co-ordinator Robin Sparks, the company is now fine-tuning the system.

"The Sault is seen as a definite area for expansion, but we won't be going there this year. Rather, we will focus on our existing coverage area," says Sparks.

Extending cellular phone service to the Sault from Sudbury will be a costly venture for either firm.

From initial planning Cantel estimates that the extension will require the construction of new cell sites every 50 miles along the Hwy. 17 corridor at a cost of about $1 million per site.

Cantel's company mandate is to link every centre along Hwy. 17 over the next two years.

While Bell Cellular plans to expand its service in the same area, Sparks says, "It would be premature to announce anything right now because plans can change."

Plans to extend cellular phone service north from North Bay to such centres as Timmins and Kirkland Lake are even further down the road for both companies.

Combined, they currently have about 4,000 cellular phone customers in Northern Ontario.

There are three basic elements to a cellular network - the cell site, the cellular switching computer and the cellular phone.

A network is divided into areas known as cell sites. Each site consists of a transmitter, receiver and signaling equipment.

Each cell site is connected by microwave, wire or fibre optics to a cellular switching computer known as a mobile telephone exchange (MTX). Both Cantel and Bell Cellular operate an MTX in North Bay.

PHOTO : The ability to take client calls while on the road is generating business for Anthony Petrone of Northern Life newspaper in Sudbury.
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Title Annotation:cellular phone service to be offered in Sault Ste. Marie
Author:McDougall, Douglas
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Aug 1, 1991
Words:405
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