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(Western Aboriginal Development) Alliance offers billing service.

EDMONTON

The first Aboriginally-controlled long-distance telephone company in Canada began operating on Oct. 21.

Spiritel is a long-distance telephone billing company, created by the Western Aboriginal Development Alliance, an Alberta-based company.

"This kind of business is expanding very rapidly, because of privatization," said Doug Stephenson, spokeman for the alliance.

Spiritel will be a long-distance billing company similar to the likes of Sprint or Cantel. These companies use existing phone lines. Stephenson said that Spiritel has a working relationship with Telus, the phone company that emerged from the amalgamation of Alberta Government Telephones and Edmonton Telephones.

"AGT will continue doing the servicing of the phone lines," said Stephenson. "Nothing changes except the billing."

Right now, Spiritel is focusing on business phone billing because of its lower failure rate. Stephenson hopes to be providing long-distance service to residential phones in the near future. At this moment, Spiritel has prepaid long-distance phone cards for sale and Stephenson has sold several hundred of these.

The support of Alberta's Aboriginal communities was essential in starting this service, since they are the targeted customers.

Spiritel will charge overhead, but the profit will be invested back into the communities that are participating. Right now, Stephenson has almost all the Aboriginal communities from Red Deer - north ready to accept this service.

The alliance is a not-for-profit company that seeks permanent employment for Aboriginal people.

Spiritel will initially have only one full-time employee and one part-time, but Stephenson expects these numbers to increase as the company grows. Telus has been providing expert advice and training on how to run a long-distance billing company.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Kenneth Williams
Publication:Wind Speaker
Date:Nov 1, 1996
Words:264
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