Symposium spotlights wireless

In the spirit of cooperation, executives from the world’s leading wireless companies met in Calgary last month to discuss the future of the wireless industry.

The 2001 Alberta-Finland Wireless Symposium, hosted by the University of Calgary, drew industry players Nokia Corp., Nortel Networks Corp., Panasonic Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. The conference (sponsored by law firm Macleod Dixon LLP and backed by the government of Alberta) showcased wireless innovations such as 3G communications, and addressed development issues surrounding the wireless sector.

Finland currently leads in wireless technology, and a suitable Canadian model can be drawn from their success, said David Saunders, faculty of management dean at the University of Calgary.

The Symposium will initiate a dialogue between the government of Alberta, Calgary’s high tech companies, venture capitalists, and the wireless, gas and oil sectors, Saunders said.

“It’s a cross-cultural interchange to learn from each other. Finland is a world leader in wireless technology and applications, and we have a lot to learn from their success: what do we need to do to adopt a Canadian way that meshes with the Finnish (model). It’s remarkable the similarities between the two countries,” Saunders said.

Andrew Kyle, committee member for the Alberta-Finland Wireless Symposium, said Calgary is widely considered to be one of North America’s leading wireless centres, a reputation it cannot afford to lose.

“What we are really trying to do is get an update on the wireless industry as to what is happening in the sector. It’s to draw in the industry to collaborate and continue Alberta’s development in wireless into the future,” Kyle said.

The Symposium allows Finland’s wireless leaders to further investigate the North American market and they regard Calgary as an ideal entry point, said Finland’s Dr. Jorma Routti from the Helsinki University of Technology in a statement.

Highlights of the event included keynote addresses from Nokia and Compaq, and “3G and Wireless Carriers,” a panel discussion from Canada’s four major wireless carriers.

“We think it’s quite a coup is to get the four wireless carriers in Canada together on a panel to have a free-for-all on what’s happening with 2.5G and 3G, Kyle noted.

“On 3G, we going to learn from the carriers when their rollout is. A lot of the talk will be if we need 3G and what’s going to work in today’s market. 3G is probably a year or two away from general rollout in major cities,” Kyle said.

“In Alberta, there is a faction (Nortel, Telus, and Alberta government) that is trying to get a (research) testbed on 3G running,” Kyle said. “(That way,) all of the applications around 3G will have a network to run on a competitive basis to see how and what will work. We’re trying to push that ahead as fast as we can.”