Waiting for the iPhone

It is still unclear if and when the iPhone will hit Whitehorse. On October 6, Bell announced that by November it would begin selling the iPhone nationwide.

It is still unclear if and when the iPhone will hit Whitehorse.

On October 6, Bell announced that by November it would begin selling the iPhone nationwide.

This was exciting news for Apple aficionados here in the Yukon who have been waiting to get their hands on the game-changing smartphone.

Bell is the territory’s cellular provider and has spent more than $1 billion dollars upgrading to the next-generation wireless network required to support the iPhone.

So it looks like the Yukon should be getting the iPhone.

“It’s just a question of when,” said Trevor Mead-Robins manager of MEADIAsolutions.

But that’s a question that both Bell and Northwestel aren’t answering.

“There’s not much I can tell you,” said Bell spokesperson Julie Smithers.

“We are not disclosing information on the specific coverage area or device availability.”

“I can’t really tell you anything,” said Northwestel spokesperson Anne Kennedy on Thursday.

“There are some very strict restrictions from both Apple and Bell with respect to any information regarding the iPhone.

“And besides, we haven’t been given a lot of information.”

Northwestel is the northern dealer for Bell and a subsidiary of the telecommunications giant.

One of Northwestel’s representatives is currently doing some training with Bell in Vancouver, said Kennedy.

But she couldn’t say exactly what the training was for.

“He didn’t even know,” she said.

“He would find out when he got there and he just started today.”

In order to support the iPhone, the local wireless network would have to be switched to the newer Third Generation (3G) standard.

“It’s a major shift in their technology infrastructure that Northwestel and Bell have had to do to make this happen,” said Mead-Robins.

“And I understand that the new tower installed on Grey Mountain is going to be supporting 3G.

“I believe the tower is installed, it’s still undergoing testing and its just a matter of turning it on or not.”

But a 3G tower on Grey Mountain may just be a rumour.

According to Kennedy, “there’s been no new construction up there.”

The added benefit of 3G networks is that they are compatible with American and European cellphones, whether they’re iPhones or not.

The old system Bell and Telus were using often causes problems for foreign phones.

This may be another reason why both cellular providers are rushing to upgrade their networks.

“My theory is that we’ve got the Olympics coming, so all those using 3G will be able to use Bell networks,” said Mead-Robins.

“Bell will be able to charge roaming fees, which will help offset some of the cost.”

But the main reason for Bell’s network upgrade would appear to be competition.

Rogers was originally the only carrier with a network that could support the iPhone and enjoyed a Canada-wide monopoly.

The demand for the iPhone meant huge growth and profits for Rogers, said Mead-Robins.

“It was enough to make Bell and Telus spend millions and billions of dollars to upgrade their networks.”

But just in case you thought that the Yukon might be catching up with the world, tech-wise, don’t worry.

The international community is already planning to switch to 4G networks sometime next year.

“My one fear is that if everyone suddenly switches to the iPhone, or a 3G-based phone (Northwestel) might not be adequate to support the demand,” said Mead-Robins

“The ability will be there, but it might become oversaturated.”

Actually getting your hands on a new iPhone might be another problem.

Mead-Robins foresees both lineups and shortages once the phone hits the northern market.

“It’s the best smart phone on the market and the demand is huge,” he said.

“I’m going to be in the lineup, my technicians are going to be in the lineup and I can list around 50 of my customers that will definitely be in that lineup.”

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com