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Communications, Telecommunications

Telesat Canada, information superhighway, Anik, domestic service, modem

Nearly all Canadian households (over 99 percent) have at least one telephone, which connects them to a sophisticated telecommunications network. Most domestic service is provided by The Stentor Alliance, a consortium of nine provincial telephone corporations (seven private, two public); Quebec-Telephone is an associate member.

The consortium also includes Telesat Canada, a corporation established in 1969 by Ottawa and private firms to provide commercial communications via satellite. In 1972 Telesat launched the world’s first stationary communications satellite designed for domestic commercial use. Called Anik I, from an Inuit word for “brother,” the satellite helped provide television and telephone service to remote northern Canada. Numerous satellites have been put into orbit since that time. Teleglobe Canada, another corporation with mixed public and private ownership, provides international telephone service.

Recent changes have seen the growth of cellular telephone systems and greater competition from other privately owned long-distance telephone companies. The Stentor group is attempting to become the spine of an information superhighway by acquiring the right to offer television cable services in the short term and a wide variety of interactive (two-way) communication systems in the longer term.

Canadians are increasingly embracing new communication systems. In 1995, 4 percent of Canadian homes owned a fax machine, some 30 percent had a computer, and 12 percent were linked to other computer systems via a modem. A survey in the same year found that 17 percent of Canadians used the Internet and that the percentage was rapidly growing.

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