TORONTO — Telus Mobility Thursday said it has enhanced its Mike wireless network to include Global Positioning System (GPS) capability and expanded walkie-talkie coverage across Canada.

Mike, first launched in 1996, is aimed at blue and grey collar

industries like construction and transportation, and white collar sectors like finance, said Telus Mobility CEO George Cope.

“”In business, they don’t purchase wireless phones for fun. They purchase wireless phones for productivity,”” he said.

Mike runs on Motorola‘s Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN) and has coverage in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Walkie-talkie service, or Direct Connect, is now available in all those areas, meaning that businesses can utilize it across provincial borders.

The GPS service works as a locator, with the Mike handsets able to display longitude and latitude on-screen. A service like that could be an asset to transportation fleets and dispatchers, said Cope, but one industry professional said that Telus may be late to the game.

According to Doug Kimmerly, vice-president of MIS at Toronto-based XTL Transport Inc., GPS technology is already standard for most trucking outfits.

“”It’s pretty much there already,”” he said. “”We were the last large company to put it in place, and we did it in 1997.””

XTL has a fleet of 450 trucks which have a Qualcomm system to report vehicle location to head office. However, he acknowledged that GPS-enabled Mike may find a home with smaller transportation fleets.

There may be other opportunities for a GPS service, such as allowing enterprise managers to know where there employees are located. “”I used to be able to say, ‘No, George, I’m not playing golf, I’m in a business meeting,'”” joked Telus Mobility executive vice-president of sales and marketing Wade Oosterman.

Telus is introducing four new Motorola handsets — the i205 and i305 for industrial applications and the i730 and i58sr for professional applications. All feature GPS technology, as well as PCS service, Direct Connect and integrated Java. “”We’ve been able to turn this into a solution for business users,”” said Rey Mor&eacute, Motorola senior vice-president and general manager of the iDEN subscriber group.

Telus also announced Thursday that it will expand its Mike coverage to the B.C. interior to include Kamloops and the Okanagan Valley by the end of the year. Also in the works is a multi-year project in Alberta to overlay the company’s analogue network with Mike and PCS service, which should increase Telus’s digital coverage to 60 per cent of the province.

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