Northwestel modernization plan represents great opportunity for northerners

Northwestel modernization plan represents great opportunity for northerners Last month, Northwestel unveiled a five-year modernization plan that certain competitors have been keen to criticize. But any suggestion that the plan somehow fails to deliver ad

Last month, Northwestel unveiled a five-year modernization plan that certain competitors have been keen to criticize. But any suggestion that the plan somehow fails to deliver advanced communications services to the North is not only misleading, it’s just plain wrong.

The reality is that Northwestel’s $270-million plan represents the largest and most comprehensive investment in communications services and infrastructure ever developed for this region. In fact, the plan is specifically designed to benefit all communities in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, as well as several in northern British Columbia.

Consumers and businesses in 96 communities across the North will receive access to the services they want, including next-generation 3G/4G wireless and wireless broadband services, the ability to use the latest handsets, smartphones and tablets, and high-speed Internet (with a minimum of 5 Mbps download speeds, even in the smallest hamlet).

For the vast majority of northern communities, these capabilities simply do not exist today.

Our modernization plan will change that, without raising prices.

Our competitors will benefit from our new plan as well. They will have greater access to our network infrastructure through services like Wholesale Connect, which will be expanded from 30 to 57 communities. Competitors will also benefit from the improvements we will make to our networks, including the ability to provide Local Number Portability in every community, enabling customers to keep their existing telephone numbers even if they change service providers.

And to those who suggest that it’s wrong to direct $40 million from the Public Benefits Fund, money set aside from BCE’s purchase of Astral Media to ensure broadband access across the North, the simple truth is that this represents a tremendous opportunity for northerners – and indeed for all Canadians, who will be connected with the North as never before – that is absolutely worth supporting. The $40 million will help ensure all northerners have access to next-generation services even in communities where the costs to provide those services are uneconomic because of their remote location and small population. One of Northwestel’s competitors asks whether our modernization plan is “too good to be true.” We think the better question to ask is: How can northerners help make something this good become a reality?

Like our plan, we believe the answer is very straightforward – take every available opportunity to voice your support. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will ultimately decide whether or not the plan will proceed. Let’s do our best to ensure that decision is the right one. Detailed instructions on how to submit comments to the CRTC can be found here: http://www.nwtel.ca/media/documents/PressReleases/how_to_file.pdf.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Paul Flaherty

President and CEO

NorthwesTel