Sidetone: Summer 1995


25 High Park Blvd. Toronto M6R 1M6 (416) 536-9252
  • Joel Eves
  • Bruce Gordon
Sidetone is a regular publication of WTT Communications Ltd. distributed, free of charge, to customers, staff and friends.
Editor this issue:Joel Eves
Vol. XXXIISpring, 1995No. II


With the major onslaught of digital telephony that has taken place over the last decade, people often ask how WTT is able to survive dealing only in the older electromechanical technology. Clearly we are serving a niche market or, to be more precise, several niche markets where traditional multi-line telephones have distinct advantages.

It's paid for
and works just
fine; why
replace it?
One of the most popular reasons we are given by new clients for system service involves life-cycle cost. Typically they bought their system in the 80s and, with minimal service expense now and then, it continues to serve their needs. In many cases, owners of conventional key systems consider wholesale conversion to digital just to acquire the advantage of one or two time-saving features (such as Touch-Tone dialing or headset capability) which can, in fact, be added to their existing hardware at low cost. This discovery has caused many firms to stay with conventional key.
My old key
system works
well with a
wide variety
of analog
Compatibility of conventional key telephones with analog phone devices like FAX machines, modems and cordless phones allows simpler, lower cost sharing of lines between such devices and the key system. Exploration of this advantage of our technology in the early 1990s led us to discover our first true niche market: broad­casters. The business of getting telephone calls "on the air", a re­la­tive­ly straight­forward exercise with the conventional key system, can involve ela­bo­rate convolutions with digital telephony. As a result, a growing number of radio stations have turned to WTT for key system solutions.
The Thirty
Pickup Rule
Digital key systems have inherent growth limits designed into their architecture, while no such limits exist in their analog predecessors. This limitation of digital technology brings us the occasional project where the desired system size or shape dictates use of conventional analog technology.
A case in point, CBC's Network Radio Newsroom at the Broadcast Centre had a requirement for 58 multi-line sets to have simultaneous, direct access to a group of 16 phone lines. The building's Meridian digital system could not meet this requirement due to a 30-pickup limit in its architecture.
CBC purchased a Logic-20 system from WTT in 1992 as an interim measure, until a technological workaround to the Meridian's limit could be developed. Several thousands of research dollars later, they gave up, beaten by the Thirty Pickup Rule. Were it not in the CBC's showplace, this story might have had a happy analog ending. Unfortunately, our system's "outdated" appearance irritated CBC management; the Logic-20s had to go.
And go they did, early in April. As the 30-pickup problem had not been over­come, the Newsroom had to change the way it operates in order to work within the limitations of the Broadcast Centre's Meridian phone system.
Hard-wired sets
don't get stolen
Last February, a call from U of T made us aware of a new niche market opportunity. New College, a large on-campus student residence complex, had been renting a conventional key system for house telephone service from Bell since the 60s. Using their "we can't fix it anymore" post-destandardization argument, Bell convinced New College to change to a Centrex-based digital system. The conversion took place a year ago, and the new, plug-in sets immediately began to disappear. It seems students had been stealing them, thinking they could be used at home. The problem had no apparent solution, so New College cut back to their original key system. But what about service?
Tight with Bell, U of T rejected our proposal to take over the system as we had done with Trinity College. Instead, they have purchased from us 24 six-button key sets which Bell will use to replace the College's ailing tele­phones as they fail. It's not the most economical solution for New College, but it will keep their key system working.


Western Telephone is embarking on a print and radio advertising campaign aimed at small analog key system users who continue to rent from Bell Canada despite destandardization of the product line.

The first print ad, featured on the back page of this issue, will debut in CKLN-FM's May Program Guide. The same ad will later appear in certain com­mu­ni­ty news­papers in an effort to contact the fragmented residential key system market.

The Program Guide advertisement will be reinforced by a series of 30-second radio spots on CKLN, to begin early in June. The first radio ads will target small medical-dental offices, shown by our own market research to be signi­ficant users of conventional key technology rented from Bell. CKLN-FM is providing air time and Program Guide space in exchange for rental of an analog key system we installed at the station in October of last year.

Prior to our installation, CKLN had been served by a Toshiba electronic key system. Placing telephone calls on the air is vital to a broadcaster like CKLN, Toronto's first community FM radio station. Patching calls from the Toshiba to the station's audio equipment had been an ongoing nightmare. Communications consultant Ian Angus, a volunteer programmer on CKLN, saw the solution in an analog key system and made the connection between WTT and the station last spring.


Customers at Westrex 1, Western's flagship multi-client rental site, will soon be able to benefit from a number of advanced rental features. With the April addition of Mitel call processing equipment, features such as Call Detail Recording, Toll Restriction and Speed Dial are now being developed for offer to firms in the Etobicoke building. Provided on a per-line basis, the Westrex Call Management Features will be accomplished using a combina­tion of programming and hard-wired switching.

Latest addition to the Westrex 1 customer family, The Third Sales Force Inc. is our first client to take advantage of the new service offering. Veteran salesman Neil Yeoman's new venture will provide telemarketing services for the moving and cartage industry. The Westrex feature rental concept allows Neil to add or remove key system features as desired, without having to invest in common equipment.

Westrex 1 is located in a former Bell Canada switching building at 80 Birmingham Street, in the Lake Shore and Islington area. Wyllie & Ufnal Consulting Engineers, the building's owner and principal occupant, purchased a WTT Generic Key System when they acquired the property in 1983.

In 1985, a second key system was installed in the building for its first tenant, an architectural firm. When the architect moved out and two other firms prepared to move in, the multi-customer Westrex concept was implemen­ted. Work on the conversion, begun in July 1987, was completed September 21. To celebrate the completion, and WTT's 20th birthday, a well-attended open house was held at the facility on October 2, 1987.

Addition of Neil's operation brings the current number of firms operating out of the building to four. Orchid Realty has been part of the Westrex system since the 1987 inception. The fourth client, Art d'Eau, was estab­lished in 1989. Operated by the daughter of Wyllie & Ufnal principal Frank Sobolak, Art d'Eau designs and builds custom aquariums, fountains and decorative ponds for corporate offices. Customers in the Westrex facility own their Generic Key telephones, and rent the supporting features provided by the Westrex equipment. WTT rents the Equipment Room from the owner on a commission basis.

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