Canadian beta tests begin for driver e-mail system

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — There are good reasons why e-mail has been compared to the CB: quick response, no limits on what you can say, and the ability to send messages to lots of people at once.

There’s also a lot of junk filling up bandwidth.

Mississauga, Ont.-based Cancom, which represents satellite-communications provider Qualcomm in Canada, promises to put e-mail to good use for truckers, offering a product called CabCARD which allows drivers to send and receive messages via their satellite communications terminal directly from the cab.

Messages are password-protected and bypass dispatch, allowing for a higher degree of communications privacy. Senders can use the telephone, existing online services, or an inexpensive Internet device to transmit a message: the e-mail function is available to anyone with driver approval.

The product has been available in the U.S. for two years. Winnipeg-based Arnold Bros. Transport will test CabCARD next month, with a wide commercial release in Canada expected Jan. 1, 1999.

Beside e-mail, CabCARD provides voicemail and prepaid calling card services from any touchtone phone through a partnership with Transcommunications Inc.

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