NorWest Mobility off to fast start

It’s been a merry Christmas for the partners of NorWest Mobility, with client numbers for its first month of operation far exceeding everyone’s expectations.
Kevin Burns, manager of marketing and sales for Thunder Bay Telephone, which owns Thunder Bay Mobility, said last week NorWest Mobility already is at its third-year projections for number of clients.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” he remarked. “We’ve got to say thanks for everybody supporting us.
“We didn’t expect this level of support,” he added. “It’s really great to see.”
Local PUC Commissioner Doug McCaig, who chairs NorWest Mobility, noted he told town council when it signed the operating agreement with Atikokan and Thunder Bay that the projected numbers were a “conservative estimate.”
He said he was very hopeful the town will see an earlier return on its investment than the original eight-year projection.
“It all depends on what kind of phone calls they’re going to be making and the people coming out of the States and using the roaming, which is a significant thing,” McCaig explained.
“[But] the numbers are very promising, very promising,” he enthused.
Burns admitted NorWest Mobility is a little concerned about the system being overtaxed at first by having so many people sign on at once “because everybody wants to try the new toy.”
“But that works itself out in the long-term,” he added.
Meanwhile, Burns said all of the activations were completed by last Tuesday for those who had ordered a cell phone prior to the Dec. 15 sign-on date.
Those who had cell phones ordered for Christmas presents were scheduled to be activated late last week, he added.
“We thank everybody for their patience as they waited for their phones to get turned on,” Burns stressed.
The next step for NorWest Mobility is turning on the towers in Blackhawk, Barwick, and Rainy River, which Burns said should happen next month.
(The activation of those towers was delayed due to the death of one of the workers at the Blackhawk one earlier this month).
“Then Atikokan will be energized in a pocket,” McCaig said. “Next spring, we’ll start in Spring Lake and Gagné Lake.”
“There’s a lot of tower builds along that route but the contractors are in place to do the engineering,” Burns noted. “It’s an exciting project, that’s for sure.”
The entire Highway 11 corridor from Shabaqua to Rainy River is expected to be on-line in the next 12-18 months although Burns said the company was hopeful it could be finished sooner.
“The quicker we can get it out, the better,” he stressed. “It starts to pay out the investments sooner.”