OTTAWA, Dec. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - The Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today set the foundation to
modernize Northwestel's network over the next four years. Northwestel's
investments in its network will result in better telecommunications
services for northern Canadians, including improved broadband Internet
services and the provision of fourth-generation mobile wireless
As part of its plan, Northwestel is expected to invest $233 million by
2017 to realize a number of significant improvements. Specifically, the
company has committed to:
upgrading and expanding its broadband Internet service offering,
extending wireless services to many additional communities; and
upgrading equipment in order to support enhanced calling services, such
as call display and call waiting, as well as local number portability
and local network interconnection.
"We recognize that modern telecommunications services play an essential
role in the North's economic development and in meeting the growing
demand for digital services such as health care, education and
government services," Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC.
"Northwestel's plan will create many positive outcomes for Canadians in
the North. We will be closely monitoring Northwestel as it implements
its plan over the coming years to ensure its benefits are realized."
Northwestel must submit a revised plan by March 31, 2014, that takes
into account the CRTC's decision and expectations. Among other things,
the revised plan should provide further details on the company's
investment in its fibre networks.
However, it will not be possible for Northwestel alone to deliver the
telecommunications services needed by Canadians across the company's
vast operating territory. In particular, Northwestel's plan is not able
to address the needs of communities that rely on satellite-based
Internet services due to the high cost of satellite transport services.
To address these needs, in 2014 the CRTC will undertake an inquiry to
examine satellite transport services offered in Canada. The CRTC will
also launch a proceeding to explore how infrastructure investments in
transport facilities in Northwestel's operating territory could be
"A digital divide exists within Northwestel's vast service territory,"
said Mr. Blais. "Those communities that receive their Internet services
over terrestrial facilities, such as fibre and microwave, receive much
faster and more reliable services than those that are served by
satellite technology. Without action, this digital gap will not be
closed, and may in fact worsen."
Northwestel's regulatory framework
The CRTC has also maintained or put in place certain measures to protect
the interests of Northwestel's customers.
The current price cap regime that applies to Northwestel's
telecommunications services has been extended for four years, with some
modifications. This regime includes pricing constraints that limit the
maximum rate that Northwestel can charge its customers for regulated
In addition, the CRTC found that there is not enough competition in the
markets for retail Internet and Ethernet Wide Area Network services
when offered using terrestrial facilities. As a result—and due to the
particular circumstances in the North—Northwestel must file its rates
for these services with the CRTC for approval.
The CRTC has revised the wholesale rates for Northwestel's Wholesale
Connect service to ensure the company is reasonably compensated for its
costs and is encouraged to further invest in its fibre networks. This
service is used by competitors to transport telecommunications traffic
to communities that receive their Internet services over Northwestel's
fibre or microwave facilities. The CRTC's approach balances
Northwestel's needs with competitors' needs to use Wholesale Connect to
provide their own services to northern Canadians.
Finally, the CRTC has directed Northwestel to provide its retail
Internet access service independent from its primary exchange
services. As a result, Canadians across the company's operating
territory will be able to subscribe to Internet and telephone voice
services separately. This initiative will also enable competitors to
offer new services to northern Canadians.
Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-711
The CRTC is an administrative tribunal that regulates and supervises
broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.
SOURCE: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
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