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Keewaytinook cell phone access growing

Wednesday February 20, 2013

Keewaytinook Mobile’s cell phones will soon be roaming across Canada thanks to the continued efforts of KM staff.

“The network is growing, the service is growing, the choices are growing and we’re still keeping it so that you can create your own plan, create your own opportunities in the communities,” said Brian Beaton, KO-KNET services coordinator. “It’s all web-based, so if you have a KM phone, you can go on the Internet and look at your account. You can see how it is being used. You can add your (pre-payment KM) voucher (cards) yourself.”

KM has been promoting a Staying Positive for KM cell phone users to keep a positive balance on their cell phone accounts. Voucher cards are available in the KM communities and at the KO office in Sioux Lookout.

Beaton said KM has been negotiating with Rogers to provide cross-Canada service for the KM cell phone users from the 20 KM communities by this summer.

“Rogers is so big — in order to set up a roaming agreement with them you have to go through this whole set of steps, and there’s hundreds of steps,” Beaton said. “They estimate it takes four to five months to get everything approved. It’s an amazing process; I’ve never seen anything like it.”

KM cell phone users currently have access to the TBayTel network in northwestern Ontario and visitors from outside the KM communities also have access to the KM network while in the communities.

“It was good having my number and being able to roam in Thunder Bay,” said Keewaywin’s Raymond Mason. “I usually forward my calls to my cell number, so that comes in real handy when I can use the same phone.”

Mason used to use two SIM cards before when travelling to Thunder Bay or Winnipeg.

“I just changed the SIM cards when I got to Thunder Bay or Winnipeg,” Mason said. “But now I don’t have to do that.”

Mason is looking forward to being able to use his cell phone in other cities across the country in the future.

“People with their own phones from the city can use their phones too (in KM communities),” Beaton said. “On a lot of the connections between TBayTel and us, we’re still working out some of the details.”

Although 2G cell phones will work in the KM communities, 3G cell phones are required on the TBayTel network and the upcoming Rogers network.

“We only use unlocked phones, as well,” Beaton said. “We order them in or you can order them online. You can find them in different cities too.”

Beaton said the use of KM phones on the TBayTel network in northwestern Ontario and the cross-Canada Rogers network helps to keep the KM network in the northern communities operating.

“If they’re using a KM phone, then they’re helping to pay for the KM network,” Beaton said. “Using your northern phone will keep the network working.”

Beaton said the online billing system was designed and built by two Keewaytinook Okimakanak staff members over the past few months.

“That’s all been done by Terence Burnard and Adi Linden,” Beaton said. “We’ve learned a lot.”


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