If transporting people and goods across the Canada-U.S. border proves cumbersome, businesses may be grateful for the roll-out of a cross-border, inter-carrier text messaging initiative.

The Ottawa-based Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and its Washington-based counterpart, the

Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, introduced the service recently, enabling users to exchange text messages between U.S. national wireless service providers and major Canadian wireless carriers.

While the service may be new for some, for others it’s status quo.

“”We’ve been doing it for six years on the Fido network,”” says Colin Hamdon, a substation engineer for Subnet Solutions Inc. in Calgary. “”The SMS infrastructure is native to the GSM network, so we’ve been using it regularly for some time. In terms of the job, it’s the easiest and most reliable way to relay information back and forth with other service guys within the company across North America.””

Subnet is a software development and engineering consulting firm focused on the supervisory control and real-time information systems of electric utility transmission and distribution systems.

Hamdon — whose job responsibilities include training and systems integration on behalf of Subnet — spends about six months a year working in Canada. The remainder of his time is typically spent in the U.S. “”They’ve been using this type of service in Europe a lot more than here for quite a while now,”” he says. “”I wish it was utilized more here.””

In Canada, the SMS cross-border service is offered nationally by Bell Mobility, Telus, Microcell Solutions, and Rogers AT&T Wireless. Regionally, SaskTel Mobility, Aliant Mobility, and Manitoba Telecom Services will offer the service.

For Gerald Lam, ISO master colourist for Vancouver-based Masterpiece Hair Salon, the cross-border text messaging offering from Telus Mobility is paramount to his business of representing a cosmetics company’s (Shiseido Inc.) professional hair colour line to salons across the North American west coast.

“”I travel frequently throughout B.C. and the U.S. to industry trade shows and for training purposes on behalf of Shiseido’s hair care division,”” Lam says. “”I’m a modernist, so when new technologies get launched, I tend to get involved using it right away.””

Telus’s director of product marketing Chris Langdon, says Canada’s wireless carriers recognized early on the value of the cross-border initiative.

“”I think the Canadian industry led North America with regard to the inter-carrier connectivity between disparate networks,”” he says. “”After we did that, we quickly recognized, as did our U.S. counterparts, this would be a good thing for the industry on the whole.””

Langdon says the deal creates “”a very compelling value proposition for enterprise users in Canada.””

Rather than relying on e-mail, faxes and voice mail, text messaging, he says, enables companies with U.S.-based offi

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