News Briefs

Microcell Telecommunications Inc. of Montreal has expanded its GSM-based digital wireless personal communications services (PCS) for all of its mobile voice and data services on Highways 40 and 417 between Ottawa and Montreal. The expansion includes the entire Microcell network, including Fido. The company has been building its network coverage in outlying areas and has added Highway 10 from Montreal to Sherbrooke, Que., Highway 15 from Montreal to Ste-Agathe, Que., Highway 20 from Montreal to Quebec City, Highway 401 from London, Ont. to Kitchener, Ont. and Highway 2 from Calgary to Edmonton, since the summer. Microcell has also added new communities to its service area this year, including Mont-Tremblant, Que., Windsor, Ont. and Winnipeg.

Francoise Bertrand resigned from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) after four years as its chair and will be moving over to Montreal-based Secor Consulting, a corporate management firm, as of Feb. 15, when she will be taking on the role as a partner of the company. During her time as chair, the CRTC tackled a number of major challenges in the Canadian telecommunications industry, including the growth of the Internet and the appearance of specialty television channels.

To build its new network data centre facility in Calgary, Shaw Communications Inc. will be implementing network technology and services from Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. Shaw will be using Sun servers and Sun StorEdge storage systems to improve its ability and capacity to deliver and store greater volumes of e-mail and services than it currently is capable of. According to the company, more than 60 terabytes of storage will be used in the new centre. The network will be powered by Sun Enterprise and carrier-grade Netra servers running the Solaris operating environment, which will provide e-mail, news, Web hosting and Web traffic services, as well as dynamic IP addresses.

Canadian retailers should take heed: another U.S. superstore chain is coming to Canada as early as 2002 and is planning on starting its invasion by opening stores in Ontario and British Columbia. Best Buy Co., the top U.S. consumer electronics retailer, currently has 413 stores in 41 U.S. states and has in excess of US$12 billion in annual sales. Best Buy is planning on building stores with upwards of 30,000 to 36,000 square feet of space, larger than the average 18,000 to 32,000 square feet of Future Shop’s stores.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved Oakville-based Cannect Communications Inc.’s plan to offer local switched services as a Canadian Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) initially in the Vancouver area. Now armed with full carrier status, Cannect plans to work towards becoming a customer service and cost-effective alternative to its competitors. After recently acquiring Delphi Solutions Holdings Inc. of Markham, Ont., Cannect now has over 440 associates and employees in 13 Canadian offices.

IBM Corp. has developed a new network security algorithm, which the company claims will reduce the time it takes to perform certain security-related tasks by up to 50 per cent. The algorithm is capable of performing encryption and authentication functions in one step, reducing some workload on networks and attached devices. IBM hopes the algorithm will be used for securing Internet protocols, storage area networks, fibre optic networks and e-business applications. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology will determine whether to recommend the algorithm for securing communications. IBM is at