Northwestel boosts bandwidth caps

In the last few months, Rich Thompson's internet bills jumped thousands of dollars. "It was out of the blue," said the CEO of Northern Vision, who runs the High Country Inn and the Gold Rush Inn.

In the last few months, Rich Thompson’s internet bills jumped thousands of dollars.

“It was out of the blue,” said the CEO of Northern Vision, who runs the High Country Inn and the Gold Rush Inn.

Thompson, unable to decipher the reason for the tenfold spike in billing, called Northwestel.

Within weeks, the telco did an aboutface.

Northwestel “took it seriously,” said Thompson.

The high bills resulted from the company’s database picking up something it hadn’t been billing the hotelier for to date.

“They’re allowed to bill us for it,” he said.

But compared to other internet programs across the country, “It’s really unfair and inappropriate for hotels.”

When Thompson showed Northwestel statistics from the rest of Canada, the company agreed to waive the excess charges, for now.

That “would allow Northwestel to reassess the package they could make available to us,” he said.

The company also plans to come up with a whole new package “that would make a lot more sense to us, and be a lot more in keeping with the style of billing that hotels across the country are used to,” said Thompson.

Just days after Thompson confronted Northwestel about his exorbitant bills, the company issued a news release announcing it had rejigged its internet packages for Yukoners.

The company is increasing download speeds and usage allowances for some customers.

The sudden changes are “not directly related” to Thompson’s complaints, said Northwestel spokesperson Sunny Patch.

But last week, when asked about raising the cap on internet use, Northwestel told the News, it’s a business and has to pay back its investors. The telco is a subsidiary of Bell Canada.

Northwestel can’t just give internet away, said spokesperson Anne Kennedy at the time.

Patch could not explain why the company suddenly decided to increase internet-usage allowances less than a week later.

“We want to improve the service we offer our customers,” she said.

Thompson would also like to see internet quality improve, especially since he’s paying premium rates.

“Their big issue on service quality is they lack redundancy on the fibre-optic cable out from the Yukon,” he said.

But that should improve within the year, said Patch.

The company is currently linking Fort Nelson with Hay River, so service disruptions can be rerouted, she said.

And the company has also completed a microwave relay system to redirect traffic if the cable is cut.

“This allows service to continue, but at a degraded level,” she said.

Northwestel has two new packages, the high speed extreme and the business extreme cable that will give customers faster download and upload speeds and a higher usage allowance.

Higher download speeds are also being introduced for the business performance cable internet and the business ultra DSL internet packages. And usage allowances are increasing 50 per cent for the classic, ultra, business classic and business ultra DSL internet packages at no extra cost.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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