WTT COMMUNICATIONS LTD.25 High Park Blvd. Toronto M6R 1M6 (416) 536-9252 www.westerntel.com/sidetone/
- Joel Eves
- Bruce Gordon
There's a new kid on the block - the Internet - and it's changing the communications industry in ways no one thought possible just a few years ago. Networks of computers, and networks of networks, have sprung up around the world in anarchic fashion. The Internet is global and largely unregulated, and its millions of participants have created a whole new universe - cyberspace!
Does this new dimension have any relevance for Western Telephone? After all, the Internet is an electronic phenomenon, and we are not an electronics company. The answer is yes, it is relevant; our own cyberspace vehicle is now sitting on the launchpad, and very soon all cybernauts will be able to surf the 'Net right to our Home Page doorstep. Here's our story...
A VIEW TO THE PAST
Western Telephone's reputation for having a keen interest in out-dated technology is well known in Toronto. Our customers - who continue to use telephone systems often described by uninformed salespeople as ancient, obsolete, or worse - are happy that not everyone has jumped on the electronic bandwagon; and so is Bell Canada, who still relies on us as a supplier of destandardized telephone equipment.
We have argued many times in these columns that the benefits inherent in electromechanical technology (simplicity, durability and repairability) are still important. We've also pointed out that the simple building blocks of this technology (relays, for example) are readily applicable to custom design and manufacture. In other words, unique solutions to complex communications problems (which cannot be solved with off-the-shelf electronics) are often possible electromechanically.
Converts to things electronic often sport a holier-than-thou attitude about modern versus 'obsolete' technology, and are quite prepared simply to abandon the old for the new. The assumption that 'new' implies 'better' leads swiftly to the conclusion that all advantages inherent in previous generations have been encompassed in and surpassed by the present generation. This naivete quite wrongly dismisses any thought of continuity, or even complementarity, between different technologies.
On the whole, we at WTT are not unhappy with this situation for two reasons. First, it's fun to be smug and poke fun at all the clones in their electronic treadmills. And second, we have been left virtually alone to work our business niche. While the odd broker may still be able to supply a few refurbished Logic-10s, no one else shares our specialty, and no one else offers the range of components and professional services that we do.
The downside to specializing in the past, however, is that marketshare tends to diminish, and we have certainly felt the impact of that trend. Luckily, we do not share the wrong opinion that complementarity between technologies does not exist and we are therefore not indisposed to adapting new ideas to our customary base of operations. Thus, we have turned to the Internet for new business opportunities.
Many of our readers are already surfin' the Net, so are familiar with the idea of a Home Page. A Home Page is like a storefront. Once you have located someone's front door, it's easy to enter electronically, browse through the merchandise and services and, if you want, place an order. Within weeks, anyone from anywhere in the world will be able to meet and greet Western Telephone at our own Home Page. Go shopping electronically to buy something electromechanical!
We'll keep you informed of our progress and be sure to tell you our launch date and, of course, our new Internet address. Inside our storefront, browsers will find historical information, technical support in the form of specs and telephonic schematics, professional services, special application scenarios, analog component lists - and much, much more!
Naturally, we're hoping to tie into a much larger marketplace, especially the US where 'mature' phone technology is still in use to a much greater extent than here in Canada. We anticipate that our unique products and services will be well received wherever old parts and expertise have been prematurely and rudely relegated to history's dustbin.
FREE SERVICE VISIT COMING FOR SOME RENTAL CUSTOMERS
Customers who rent more than one "Line Station Adaptor Circuit" from WTT will receive a free service visit sometime this summer. The circuit, which enables single-line devices (fax, modems, answering machines, etc.) to share a key system line, employs a device known as the 6C KTU.
Faced with a potential shortage of 6Cs, the Company has developed the 6D KTU: a device manufactured from spare parts which replaces two 6Cs. Retrofitting installations having two (or more) 6Cs with the 6D will allow us greater flexibility in dealing with future demand. Better than 30% of our installed 6C KTUs are in multiple installations.
Customers involved in the conversion will be called in advance to arrange a visit. While we're there, we'll be happy to give your system a free checkup, including minor repairs such as lamp replacement.
NEWS AND INFORMATION FROM THE WTT CUSTOMER BASE
Spotlighting recent activity in the Western Telephone family of customers
WTT customer Van Pak Registered was surprised recently when they traded in their conventional fax machine for a plain paper model. As a wholesaler of smallwares, the firm receives a significant number of orders from other parts of Canada by fax after the office has closed. They soon discovered that the new machine didn't have a large enough paper tray to supply a busy night's traffic.
After discussion with his computer consultant, Van Pak founder and CEO Arnold Naiman decided to use his computer to receive faxes at night, and the plain paper machine to send and receive during the day. Making this transparent to the caller took a bit of telephone work.
A "day / night" switch was configured for the job, assigning the fax line to the standalone machine during the day, and the computer at night. In and working, the new arrangement gave Arnold a nice bonus. Having his paper wasted by "junk" faxes in the night is now a thing of the past.
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Trinity College at the University of Toronto continues to generate activity for us since the major key system conversion last winter. An Emergency Telephone System has been installed to service the college's two passenger elevators, with the capacity to handle future Emergency Telephone locations.
In March we began working with Geoff Seaborn, Trinity's Bursar, on a fine tuning of the system's configuration. By replacing single-line telephones with key sets, the number of phone lines can be reduced, yielding a worthwhile monthly saving. A first phase streamlining of the system in St. Hilda's College has now been completed; a second phase proposal is being evaluated. Trinity College currently rents 45 telephones and associated features from WTT.
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Those people renting destandardized key systems from Bell are still out there. Dr. M. M. Drummond found us recently, after Bell refused to service the two-line, four-station system at her Cabbagetown clinic. Replace a noisy handset cord and a couple of bulbs: pretty routine stuff for us. One wonders why Bell makes such a fuss.
Companies who own their own key systems but can no longer locate technical support are also finding their way to Western Telephone. Others who connected with us for parts or service in the recent past include Eleanor Dover Inports of Toronto and Town Centre Management of Scarborough.
The Back Page:
THIRD PHONE SHOW PLANNED
For the third year running, avid telephone collectors in Ontario are organizing a fall Antique Telephone Show and Sale. This year's extravaganza is scheduled for Saturday October 7 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Knights of Columbus Hall
186 Gore Street East
Further information is available from organizer Paul Simpson:
If you wish to display items at the show, contact Paul as soon as possible. Tables are still available for $15.00 each.
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