February 2013

Talk is Cheap

Student Trio Out to Prove Talk is Indeed Cheap

A business hatched by three tech-savvy students at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, Alberta Canada aims to deliver free residential long distance phone service.

Calgary residents can sign up now with Synqh Telecom (www.synqh.ca) for free calling from cell phones and land lines to anywhere in Canada, the US and India. Plans are underway to expand to the cities of Edmonton and Vancouver.

The venture was sparked when the students teamed up for the final project in their two-year Information Technology program — Telecom Systems major. The project sees students tackle an issue through applied research.

For Sutej Bath, Gurbinder Jassal and Gurtej Rai, the cost of calls home to India was a common interest. Using their knowledge of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) gained through their SAIT studies, they decided to make that their project — and save themselves some long distance dollars, to boot.

Turning their talents into a business wasn’t in the picture at the outset. That came after their instructors saw the potential and encouraged them to run with it.

How it works

Registered users dial a local access number provided by Synqh. From there, they connect to their destination number.

The appeal to customers?

“You’re not tied into any contract; you’re good to go,” says Bath.

Before the call goes through, users must listen to a 15-second commercial. And that’s where the business end comes in.

Synqh’s approach is gaining interest from prospective advertisers, Bath says. “Television ads play to everyone, whether they’re interested or not. With us, you can target your advertising to your demographic.”

Industry eager to hire

Today’s technology-driven world offers plenty of scope for SAIT’s Telecom Systems graduates who have a bent toward running their own business: the start-up of Synqh Telecom is one example. Other graduates of the program this spring will be headed into a well-paid and flourishing job market eager to tap their skills.

“Industry demand far exceeds the number of graduates we can supply,” says Wes Jamieson, an instructor in the SAIT program. SAIT’s training labs model industry standards. Keeping in close contact with industry is also crucial.

“We adjust the program every year in response to industry advancements,” says Jamieson.

And as the industry is changing rapidly, Jamieson says it’s an exciting career field.

“In 20 years, we’ve gone from mechanical to digital. It’s continuous learning; there’s something new every day. It’s great for someone who wants to physically work with their hands but doesn’t want the same thing every day.”

Jamieson says the final project — and the resources SAIT devotes to involving students in applied research — puts SAIT’s program in a league of its own.

“Students get so motivated and excited, and it shows in the quality of the projects. They’re world-class,” he says.

Graduates can also transfer their diploma to SAIT’s Bachelor of Applied Technology Information Systems as well as other degree programs at institutions across Canada and internationally.

SAIT Polytechnic, located in Calgary, Alberta, is one of Canada’s most exciting destinations for post-secondary education, offering career programs that position people for success by providing learning experiences that are relevant, skills-oriented, and applied in the real world. Over the last five years SAIT graduates have enjoyed an employment rate of 97 per cent.