TORONTO — Bell Canada and TravelNet Technologies have teamed help take the office on the road.

The companies Tuesday launched DataValet at the Sheraton Centre Toronto in downtown Toronto. According to the telecommunications company, the service gives road warriors a high-speed connection to their corporate network, e-mail, local news and services like printing and faxing through a portal.

Cindy Warren, TravelNet director of marketing, says it created all the back-end technology (the virtual office, printing and faxing capability) while Bell brought the content providers together and designed the look of the portal.

It was no accident the Sheraton served as the launch pad, given it is also a user. Camille Renda, Sheraton Centre’s director of telecommunications, says the hotel has a T1 connection and more than 670 rooms. Every meeting room is DataValet-ready. She says there weren’t any infrastructure changes or charges needed since it wired the rooms with Category 5 wire (100 Mbps) four years ago.

Renda says what tipped the scales in DataValet’s favour was its ease of use.

“It was the plug and play solution. You and I know that the CEOs and the Who’s Who don’t know a driver from anything. And why should they?” she says.

Both Bell and Montreal-based TravelNet say another 50 hotels are slated to offer the service, though no one would say which ones.

Alex Kotyack, a member of the DataValet project team, says connecting to the service is as easy as 1,2,3: connect your laptop’s network card to the DataValet jack with an Ethernet cable, boot your device, and the portal automatically pops up when you launch your browser. One of the benefits of the service is that no software has to be installed nor re-configuring the laptop needed to connect, he adds. There is also a 1-800 number for technical support.

“DataValet is also compatible with most vendors of high-speed virtual private networking services as well,” Kotyack says, “Essentially these services, enable secure high-speed remote access to your company’s private network where you can download presentations or access reports.” These documents can then be printed out (and delivered to your door) at the hotel’s business centre.

The service costs of $9.95 per day for a room and $99.95 for a meeting room. Printing and faxing fees are extra and are determined by the hotel. All charges are added to the hotel bill.

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