Last Days For Northern Two-Way Radio Service

Monday, October 24, 2005 at 13:55



SaskTel is asking the CRTC for permission to phase out a two-way radio service in northern Saskatchewan.


The system allows people with two-way radios in remote areas to be patched into the regular phone network through a switching station in La Ronge.


The utility hopes to withdraw the service in February because it feels the 28-year-old communications network is too fragile.


SaskTel spokeswoman Michelle Englot says the entire network could collapse at any time because the supplier of the switch equipment is no longer in business.


Englot says many long-time users of the system have switched to satellite phones, which she says are comparable cost-wise.


But, a long-time advocate of the two-way radio system says the trappers that still use it can’t afford to make the switch.


Angela Keller also says the old system is the most reliable of the two in a pinch, mainly because of the re-charging needs of a sat phone.


Keller says SaskTel is essentially removing a 9-1-1 service for traditional land users.


Englot says, on average, the 100 people that still use the radios utilize the patch equipment in La Ronge one minute a month combined.