Yukon Shuts Door on 80% of the World

One of the most unfortunate recent losses from the Yukon is the departure of Ice Wireless and its seminal GSM mobile phone network. That more concern for this departure was not demonstrated – or worse, that no effort seemed exerted to keep them here – by the territorial government is concerning.

Ice’s European-developed GSM platform is the de facto global standard in mobile telephone communications. Over 80% of the mobile handsets in the world operate using GSM. Many of those handsets utilize the most advanced mobile technologies available.

Conversely, the US-originated CDMA system used by Bell Mobility and Latitude Wireless represents that adolescent North American ego desperately grasping for credibility, a prime example of blind Americhismo. CDMA handsets generally lag both stylistically and functionally. Quality of service on CDMA networks is by and large inferior and less dependable.

The technical differences between GSM and CDMA are irrelevant, however, when you consider one simple fact: GSM is an informal global standard. It is the most common mobile telecommunications infrastructure in over 170 countries. With a GSM handset you can generally travel the world and stay in touch.

To Latitude Wireless’ credit, it’s absolutely stupendous that you can travel to Beaver Creek and access your email wirelessly. That community, however, offers limited economic, social, and cultural opportunities compared to major world centres such as London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, and Moscow.

It almost goes without saying that as the Yukon has lost access to a GSM network, the territory has also lost access to the best current and future mobile technologies. Don’t expect to ever see the new Pearl from Blackberry or Apple’s upcoming iPhone in the Yukon. Both devices are, and always will be, GSM-only. Likewise, the entire stable of advanced Sony-Ericsson devices are off-limits, and so are Samsung’s coolest and most ambitious products such as the Blackjack. Continue reading

WHTV Digital Television is a Contender

Late last year WHTV introduced its digital cable television service to the Whitehorse market. They are making a quality bid to compete with similar satellite-based services from StarChoice and Bell ExpressVu.

Ever your humble correspondent, I agreed to submit myself to excessive amounts of television viewing in order to gauge the quality of the local firm’s new service. Yes, for your benefit, dear reader, I spent countless hours very nearly comatose in front of my 42-inch plasma display. Sometimes life is rough for a columnist.

You probably noticed that WHTV’s new television service has the word “digital” in front of it. While at first glance that might seem like one of those lame marketing terms, digital television is actually a significant improvement over that way-old “analogue” TV we all grew up with.

In a nutshell, “digital” means it’s TV that’s a lot prettier and can do a lot more. Continue reading

Apple’s iPhone Promises Fun with Function

Well, I didn’t have to wait long for one of my new-year predictions to be realized. On Tuesday at the MacWorld Conference in San Francisco, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone.

Basically a pocket-sized Mac computer, the iPhone pretty much matches all the specifications on my wish list. It’s even sexier than I expected.

In an television interview following his keynote, Jobs described Apple as a “product” company. He qualified that definition by explaining that Apple doesn’t sell technology so much as it sells “things” people want to have.

In view of the new iPhone, I would take that description one step further and describe Apple as a company that provides “experiences”. Continue reading

The New Web: Your Identity is Everywhere

One aspect of the so-called “new” web that isn’t being adequately addressed is the issue of privacy and data security. This matter was recently made apparent to me in spades.

Last summer, frustrated with the overwhelming noise of its cooling fan, I sold my XBox 360 to a kid from Toronto who was visiting his dad in Teslin. He got a great deal that included a subscription to XBox Live, Microsoft’s internet-gaming network.

Out of the blue the other day I received a call from Visa fraud services enquiring as to whether I’d just authorized a couple of charges from XBox Live. Clearly, I hadn’t.

It turned out that my credit card was somehow connected to my old XBox Live account, which this kid was using. He’d just charged $200 worth of stuff to my Visa. Continue reading