“I Can See a Lion Behind Me” Ibrahim Gedeon, TELUS CTO (2003-2023)

Today, Ibrahim Gedeon, TELUS Chief Technology Officer leaves a 20-year storied technology career affecting many Canadians at home and at work, for new adventures. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the American University of Beirut and has a master’s degree in electronics engineering from Carleton University. With a total of six titles with previous companies like Nortel Networks, Bell and Mitel starting in 1988, the Lebanese-born self-professed “tech-geek-chef” always was customer driven. During a TELUS labour strike, he rolled up his sleeves and installed TELUS services in Edmonton often ending with recipe exchanges with home occupants at the kitchen table. After my interview with Ibrahim in 2004, his first formal media interview, I realized TELUS had hired an armful of technology leadership, and more.  

On a warm summer evening we met in heart of downtown Edmonton at Co Co Di Restaurant and Bar on Rice Howard Way, complete with water pipes, better known as hookahs, brimming with the cool aroma of tobacco marinated with apple-flavoured molasses. It was a five-hour affair on a sidewalk table busy with passersby. And of course a long parade of Lebanese dishes, with guidance. “I would rather do business or negotiate over a long meal like this,” said Gedeon.

Here is the interview published in the Edmonton Journal on August 2, 2004.

Note we talked about technology 20-year old technology then, a window in the past where companies like TELUS were positioning themselves with new tech challenges.

My five-hour hookah faceoff with Ibrahim Gedeon, newly appointed Chief Technology Officer for TELUS, right

At first glance, Ibrahim Gedeon looks more like an elevator service person than his white-collar colleagues rushing home after work. This corporate Chief Technology Officer (CTO) was definitely different.

“OK, so I have a title,” he says “But I see a world where there are no white-collar or blue-collar workers… just no-collar-collar.”

The 40-year-old bachelor has been the Telus CTO since last October but insisted he stay low until he got to know his new employer better.

Gedeon recently gave the Journal his first formal interview over a five-hour endless stream of Lebanese dishes and apple-flavoured hookah he had selected in downtown Edmonton.

What do you bring to TELUS?

I am a geek that can make technology work.

What makes a good CTO?

Successful CTOs are extroverted engineers who can speak and articulate well.

What motivates you at TELUS?                                                                                                 

It’s like a 100-metre dash. Which would make you run faster, a lion chasing you or an Olympic gold medal waiting for you at the finish line? For the last three years we just saw the gold medal ahead of us. But today I am motivated because I can see a lion behind me.

Who are the lions?

The unregulated service providers who are competing with our technologies.

What is your goal?

To evolve the TELUS vision to something more applied and practical.

So tell me about the TELUS consumer vision.

We want to bring network services into homes so the PC, TV, set- top box, phone and stereo work together on one screen. But we need to make it feature friendly and easy.

Gedeon orders an appetizer. “You are going to love these, they are fantastic.”

What frustrates you in t his industry today?

That everybody is converting to the same place through different routes. They all forget what their key value proposition is to the end user.

Aren’t you taking on new technologies beyond your core business?

We won’t succeed building our own application, neither will Shaw. We’re just too small, we’ve got to build the right framework for existing technologies… I approach everything with an open mind.

Do you ever talk to competitors?

Canada is a small place. We need pre-competitive relationships. I meet, casually, with other CTOs to understand where the industry is going, as pure professionals.

“OK, the food is here, this is fine for you, but don’t touch that one.” (he remembers I’m allergic to sesame oil)

What bugs you about how outsiders view TELUS?

Everyone is more impressed with how much money we spend. To me it’s what you do with it. I mean I can just go and make a pitch to the board and spend $ 300 million more. If that’s going to move the shareholder, fantastic. But it’s not who buys the fastest car, it’s who drives it faster.

How do you decide on what technologies TELUS should invest in?

You don’t want technology to be a boat anchor that kills you. You shouldn’t let peer pressure of people announcing new things impact you when it doesn’t make sense.

“Excuse me, I’ve got to fix my hookah because if I don’t smoke well I can’t be innovative when I am speaking.”

You equate everything with sexuality?

I believe food is attractive and sexy. What’s the definition of attractive – it doesn’t say woman -it’s something that is highly desirable, like that electronic board I showed you in the lab that we are evaluating – piece of genius like a beautiful cooked dish. I am a geek deep down and I think technology is attractive.

How are you going to match your TV quality with cable and satellite?

I have ours and Shaw running in my apartment in Edmonton. The key thing is, it’s digital, so they are comparable.

What about HDTV?

There is no consumer rush yet for HDTV so we can’ t build a case for a small market segment. But next year it will be just as good.

That’s really nice, what’s this?

“It’s bread.”

Who has the technology advantage between you and Shaw?

They have an initial speed advantage but beyond that it’s fair game for everybody. But we have been in the telephone business for 100 years. (laughs)

“The hookah enhances my taste buds, its apple flavour, but I don’t breathe it in.”

You offer VoIP in your enterprise sector, but seem happy to push your older land-line service on consumers while competitors offer cheap home-based IP telephony

Yes, I could come in and replace your phone service with IP, which is what we eventually want to go to, but there are government regulations that I am not an expert in. Even so, why should I invest in both technologies to give you the same service unless there is a compelling argument?

Well, you could lose business!

We will stay the course, whether it’s labour, regulatory, capital or profitability. I don’t mind suffering a couple of years to win the war.

“You need to draw harder to get the smoke up in your hookah.”

How will you sell all this integration to a mass audience?

For now, you sell it as Telus voice or TELUS TV. People have a lot of disconnected things in their home and reach the point where they say, “Oh my God, I have to do all this.” Can TELUS fix that? Yes. How can we make money? We need to know.

When will we see the new consumer TELUS?

In 2005, where you can pick and choose products and services. We are laying the seeds with the consumer to what the new world can be, so you are getting a cooked meal.

How is technology changing the old-fashioned telephone?

IP telephony now becomes a computer application people can use in many ways.

“Hey Lisa, is there sesame in the garlic sauce? Eat this, it’s great… lamb, beef and chicken.”

Consumers are attracted to new and cheap technology, like a competitor’s IP-based phone for half the price of your land-line phone.

People understand a value proposition. I have been going to the same tailor for the past 16 years. He is not the cheapest, but delivers the quality I need. Companies like Primus will eventually run into problems because of quality of service.

Why can’t TELUS  customers have the same number in their land-line phone and cellphone, rather than subscribing to two services now? It looks like a money grab.

Our strategy is not to squeeze the consumer just because we can. The technology is there from companies like Motorola. I would like to come to your home computer wireless network and let you make free calls from cellphones. Even make each one ring differently. But for now, it’s much easier and important to maintain the identity of each caller. That’ s something we are looking at but there are internal and regulatory issues too.

Would you ever get rid of your land line?

Do your bosses listen to you?


What is the killer app for today?

In terms of revenue, it’s voice. And you know, I pity those people who only use e-mail to communicate.

You and Shaw seem to be stepping over each other’s turf competing for all-in-one services to homes. Can you pull it off?

Shaw is considered best in class and I hope they become the most successful cable company in Canada. But I want to be the most successful service provider in Canada. If my intent is to make your life easier at home, I will work with the devil to make you happy.

“OK, you have to move the coal slightly, so the tobacco burns evenly.”

Is the technology sector making money today?

Most technology today displaces wealth… dollars they pay today are being paid somewhere else. I think it’s going to be a slow adoption interim for new wealth creation.

So why won’t you offer computer technology with your bundle?

If you want to buy bread, go to the baker. We are not a baker. We want to be the place where you have a choice of bread, a choice of meat.

Why did it take you so long to “meet the press?”

I needed to understand TELUS rather than speak early from cheat sheets just to please everyone. The first thing I did when I joined Telus last October was to go to home installations with the truck crews and meet and get to know consumers. It was a beautiful experience for me.

What frustrates you inside TELUS?

I think it’s a personality thing, the culture part. People keep telling me I am different. Maybe I am compared to the norm, I suppose. But TELUS is much bigger than me so I am adapting. The night is young!

Steve Makris Astrophotography

As a tech writer, I specialize reviewing tech including cameras and camera phones. Here is a selection of my recent work from my back yard with Aurora Borealis, to Greece, Iceland and Jashua National Park in California and Lake Louise.

In the circular streaks, the center star is Polaris often called North Polar Star.

Typically, exposures are several hours long for one frame. Straight lines are passing airplane trails or occasionally, comets, even Aurora Borealis!


Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

Epson EcoTank ET-2850 is Family Print Ready

The EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Colour All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer for $400 is a gift that will outlive most, especially toys. It allows kids of all ages to let their imaginations run wild with printing projects. With up to 2 years printing with Epson’s exclusive EcoFitin ink bottles in the box, the equivalent of 90 traditional cartridges saves you 90% over ink costs using traditional cartridges. Kids can fully immerse themselves in any printing activities without the fear of running out of ink or their allowance! From transforming basic cut-outs into detailed decorations, creating picture collages for gallery walls or stencils for DIY tote bags, they won’t run out of creativity. The ET-2850 has impressive print quality producing sharp text, colour photos and graphics on virtually any paper type. Plus, if the kids are tech savvy, they can voice command printing or easily print from their smart device with the intuitive Epson Smart Panel App. Compared to its older sibling model theET-2850 is quieter and has a larger 1.4” colour display for navigating manus easier. It also has auto two-sided printing saving on paper and a high resolution scanner for copying and printing old album photos. Parents will like the extended two-year warranty with registration.  

Ninja Blast Portable Blender

The battery armed  Ninja Blast Portable Blender  is an ideal gift for folks who are on the go. It’s an ice-crunching high-speed blending power with a cordless, hand-held design. A large capacity 18-oz. vessel is perfect for smoothies, protein shakes, and frozen drinks. Ninja’s BlastBlade Assembly is easy to maintain – a 30-second blend with rinsing water and a drop of dish soap is all you need. But its easy to disassemble and dishwater safe. The built-in battery housing in the bottom of the non-slip case is chargeable via the included USB-C cable. The one-handed, easy-open sip lid and sturdy hinged carrying handle make drinking your favourite blends easier than ever. Think of traveling and quickly picking fresh fruits and vegetables on the way to the airport or hotel ready to blend at last minutes notice. The ribbed glass vessel creates a vortex for the durable, stainless steel BlastBlade stainless steel blade blasts through ice and frozen ingredients. One full two-hour charge gives you about 15 blends . It comes in four fresh colours. For safety, the Ninja Blast has separate power and blend buttons to prevent unintentional blending.  

Helight Sleep For a Good Night’s Rest

Most folks are aware of seasonal SAD light therapy energizing you during long dark winter nights with blue light. Say hello, rather “goodnight” to Helight Sleep which improves sleep by using a special red light frequency of 630 nanometers signaling the end of day to the brain encouraging production of melatonin. The new sleep technology is gaining traction from NASA research and multiple vendours. It’s sleep cycle starts with the bright red light on for 14 minutes, then gradually dimming to off in the remaining 14 minutes. It works best when used in the dark with no TV or smartphone nearby. I have been using it for the past two weeks and have noticed a difference looking forward to a good night’s rest sans my trusty smartphone. I turn it on by my night table, get into my most comfortable position and close my eyes. No worries, the light penetrates through your eye lids. Helight, a small Canadian family business, claims 95% of the first 50,000 customers kept the device after the now 60-day trial. It comes with a USB charging cable that works off computer USB ports or phone wall chargers.

Philips Sonicare 4100

The very affordable  Philips Sonicare 4100 $60, is a smart electric toothbrush that cleans teeth effectively removing uo to 7x more plaque than a manual toothbrush. Using new BrushSync technology that detects and synchronizes the smart brush head to the handle, it pushes toothpaste bubbles between the teeth for hard-to-get-to spots.  it also tracks and reminds to you when to replace your brush head, for an effective clean every time. Pressure Sensors let you know when you’re brushing too hard, to protect your teeth and gums. An easy-start program eases you into brushing with Sonicare, by gradually building-up the brushing power over time.

Deco BE95 from TP-Link

Put this under the ultimate tech gift for Wi-Fi starved homes. The next-gen Deco BE95 WiFi 7 from TP-Link whole home network system costs a whooping $1,700 for the two-unit kit but it delivers unheard of performance speeds between connected devices and Internet in a two-story home. For tech geeks, here are the stats:  Combined speed of 33 Gbps: 11,520Mbps on two 6GHz bands, 8,640Mbps on the 5GHz band, and 1,148Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. What does this mean? Now, your Wi-Fi connected home for your fastest data-thirsty devices will be as fast as your Internet cable service is for your desktop. Streaming and downloading other data will be at it’s fastest. And that with little interruption or throttling because the Deco BE95 is designed for simultaneous data transmissions. It’s faster than 5G smartphones top 20 Gbps connection speed in comparison to the 33 Gbps combined performance of the BE95 Wi-Fi 7. Basically, the faster the Internet connection from fiber optic connected Internet providers, this Wi-Fi 7 system will be able to handle and pass on the speed benefits beyond your desktop. There’s more. The innovative 6GHz band ensures a pristine connection free from the interference of other legacy (slower) devices at home. The extra trio of 320MHz channels enable multiple high-speed transmissions simultaneously. This means different legacy devices will work in a separate ban not affecting your faster connected devices. Installation is non-technical with the Deco smartphone app.  Follow the clear instructions for the first Ethernet connected Deco BE95 unit and the second Wi-Fi 7 unit will be discovered and added on automatically. In my case it worked with new and old smart Nest and Eco Bee thermostats, new and 11-year-old laptops (updated Aspire S7) three generations of Sonos speakers and my three Ring Alarm external units.

Huawei Freebuds Pro 3

The premium Huawei  Freebuds Pro 3, is packed with impressive technology that delivers. The Ultra-Hearing Dual Drivers including an 11 mm ultra-mag bass driver that seems to go through your bones and with digital cross-over technology, the treble sound can soar to 48 kHz3 or drop all the way to 14 Hz. HUAWEI FreeBuds Pro 3 for $299 supports the L2HC 2.04 and LDAC codecs, and is certified by both HWA and Hi-Res Audio Wireless to deliver high-resolution audio. The triple adaptive EQ algorithm keeps every note, tone, and tune true-to-life. The algorithm detects volume level, ear canal shape, and wearing status in real time, and applies the optimal sound level and EQ settings on the go. Distraction-Free Calling with Huawei’s Pure Voice 2.01 does a commendable job when taking or receiving voice or video calls, including a 80% improvement on wind noise cancellation over the previous model, even when you are on a bike. A redesigned bone conduction voice pick-up (VPU) microphone that stays closely fixed to your ears adds to the bud’s effective Active Noise Cancellation( ANC). Three additional microphones form a 4-mic system for impressive ANC. I tested this pair on a recent flight with ANC on completely removed the cabin noise. In a crowded restaurant it was second to Apple. Fully charged, the buds run for 6.5 hours with ANC off or 4.5 hours with ANC on. The included case, delivers 31 hours keeping the buds constantly topped off, or 22 hours with ANC on. Connect to two devices at the same time, and switch audio even between iOS and Android devices without having to repeatedly pair and disconnect. A much improved groove design to pinch or tap ten settings on each bud and IP54 dust and splash resistance impress.


The HUAWEI WATCH GT 4 is loaded with many new features but the number one outstanding feature, a signature of the Huawei watch line if you wish, is it’s ability to run for up to two weeks with one charge. And that is with a few metrics still left on.

Heath management features:

  • Sleep habits, including Sleep Breathing Awareness which scans for breathing irregularities during sleep and giving users additional insight to their respiratory health during sleep.
  • Menstrual Cycle Management 3.0, Intelligently analyzing and learning physiological indicators, such as heart rate during sleep, body temperature, breathing rate, and more, to predict menstrual periods.
  • 24/7 heart or instant on demand spot monitoring are handy and accurate compared to predssional monitors like my annual heart stress test in my doctor’s office. Whether a casual glance while relaxing, a brisk walk or after waking up, it’s kinda nice to know that my most vital organ is still ticking!
  • PPG Arrhythmia Analysis (ECG) Monitoring technology incorporating multi-channel signal enhancement algorithms providing users more accurate readings of their heart health even during dynamic activities or low temperature environments Note: like other new ECG capable health watches arriving in Canada this feature has to be approved by by Canadian regulators before becoming available here, which historically takes a few months.
  • With new TruSeenTM 5.5+ technology, the HUAWEI WATCH GT 4 has improved on the Activity Rings Feature providing a quick overview of daily fitness statistics, including calories burned, exercise duration, and standing activity. Users can earn medals for completing all three rings and choose from over 100 sports modes (yes) for a more active lifestyle. The Stay Fit Caloric Management App utilizes real-time health data to offer holistic recommendations for better health management.
  • This data can be viewed in helpful quick glances on the watch face, but more details and suggestions can be viewed on the Huawei Life app phone app.  

The online gallery, features more than 25,000 watch faces ranging from many free and up to $7 for sophisticated designs and impossible multiple watch/gearlgraphics movements. Although Huawei Wallet (purchases with your phone) is not supported in Canada, you can use your credit card/PayPal.  All look great on the AMOLED 42mm 1.32” colour screen with a resolution of 466 x 466 pixels and 352 PPI pixel density. The 46mm screen has a 1.4” screen and a resolution of 466 x 466 pixels and a pixel density of 326 PPI.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                         An upgraded dual-band five-system high-precision GPS, increases positioning accuracy by 30%, from previous models even in densely structured urban areas is ideal for expeditions and running challenges. My facourite unique Huawei Route Back feature helps you find your way back by reversing your GPS route. Very handy if your walk or run route was in a forested area or you wanted to make sure you go by a store front that previously caught your eye when you started.

The tiny onboard speakers have impressive audio quality for receiving and making phone calls when in bluetooth proximity to my Samsung phone or hearing encouraging comments during an outdoor walk (without phone, with GPS turned on the watch) and sound even more impressive when playing uploaded music – up to 500 songs. You can assign your music playback to any Bluetooth device. I often play a soothing tune while in bed with my wrist close to me ear in low volume so to not disturb my partner.  

Added features, include a new launcher for smooth installs, quick messaging and replies, as well as support for third-party applications for music, navigation, and more. The smartwatch offers an impressive battery life of up to 2 weeks. It seamlessly integrates with both iOS and Android devices, providing users with access to all these features. In the online manual, HuaweiCanada  points out it is ensuring the protection of privacy and data, offering peace of mind when accessing industry-leading technologies.

Available in Canada, it comes in two designs that fuse technology and fashion – the HUAWEI WATCH GT 4 46mm $439 showcasing a bold octagonal design in a black fluoroelastomer strap, grey stainless-steel strap, or a green composite strap while the HUAWEI WATCH GT 4 41mm $328 featuring a sleek pendant design comes in a fluoroelastomer strap, a jewelry-inspired light gold Milanese strap, and a white leather strap option. Available at big box Canadian stores but if you purchase the Watch GT 4 at HUAWEI Official Store and My HUAWEI App you get an exclusive free gift of FreeBuds 3 subject to availability.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The S23 Ultra inHyperlapse Mode captures trailing stars, comets and the Aurora Borealis in a six hour overnight exposure, speeding the 4K video up 300X to show motion we normally don’t see when looking up at the stars. This is a frame grab which the phone lets you get.

The S23 Ultra is still my favourite go-to camera phone. It has power, speed, can compete in quality with professional interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras, and shoot in any light condition. It was a bige leap from the previous S22 series with larger 200MP images in addition to the 50MP and 12MP normal shooting. As a professional photographer wanting to capture the most detail of places I may not visit again as a septuagenarian, both the 200MP and 50MP settings as well as the Expert Raw setting for capturing virtually noiseless night scenes  have been priceless to me. The rapid 100-frame in a several seconds long shooting burst has captured countless of moments of people interacting, impossible to get otherwise. From 10X optical zoom to sharp panoramas to .6 super wide the colour is consistent. The astrophotography capabilities of the S23 series still astound. Hyperlapse mode for example captures star trails, when left on for more than several hours and automatically creates a 4K accelerated video of quickly passing star trails accelerated 300X. A single frame capture of a Hyperlapse 4K video shows stunning detail, easily done on the phone. Then, there’s the 8K 30FPS video recording which will astound when viewed on a Samsung 8K TV. 8K video yields still frames three times larger than the normal 12MP photos the camera captures. This allows me to capture high quality stills shot at 30 FPS never missing a moment. Then there’s the S Pen stylus for scribbling notes, converting to text and gesturing controls without touching the screen on the Ultra. With 500GB memory you can shoot thousands of high quality photos and hours of 8K video which the phone can also downsize onboard to 4K and 1080p for use online. Check my in-depth WiFiHiFi review for more details and examples.