A deal inked in China Monday, to test a new form of wireless telephone technology in rural Saskatchewan, may herald the future of SaskTel service in the province, company officials say.
Ron Styles, the head of SaskTel, was in Beijing to sign the deal with a Chinese company called Huawei.
Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall was also on hand.
According to a news release outlining the agreement, Huawei will provide equipment for three test sites in Saskatchewan for a new high-speed wireless service that would be about five times faster than what is currently available.
The trial will determine the "feasibility of wireless broadband and voice services for customers in predominantly rural locations," according to the news release.
SaskTel will also use the trial to assess how the new wireless service compares to the corporation's existing copper wire infrastructure.
"SaskTel's copper infrastructure dates back to the 1960s and we are fast approaching the need to replace and upgrade this technology," Styles was quoted as saying.
The test will start before the end of 2012 and run for about eight months.
The companies will then evaluate the results and a report will be done for SaskTel "that includes an economic overview for the replacement of parts of its rural copper network."