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News archive for December 18, 2013

CRTC releases decision on summer hearings

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) can’t force more Internet companies to come to the North, concedes chair Jean-Pierre Blais.

By Stephanie Waddell on December 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) can’t force more Internet companies to come to the North, concedes chair Jean-Pierre Blais.

However, the regulatory authority is doing all it can to ensure Northerners have access to affordable, reliable service, he told local reporters this morning.

The CRTC released its most recent decision on Northwestel Inc.’s modernization plan today.

The decision comes after hearings were held across the North last June on Northwestel’s application for changes to an earlier decision by the commission on its five-year modernization plan.

Speaking to reporters by phone this morning, Blais said the commission heard repeatedly that northerners want faster, better quality telecommunications service that is needed by residents and businesses.

This is no longer about bringing caller ID to the North, he said, noting the importance of having services often taken for granted elsewhere in the country available.

Among the directions issued in the six-page decision to Northwestel is that the company must better focus its modernization plan on transport, where competing companies have access to its infrastructure.

Northwestel has been asked to go back and re-prioritize its $233-million modernization plan, making transport among the top priorities, CRTC staff said.

Early in the new year, the CRTC will begin an inquiry process to look at the transport issue, Blais said.

That will begin with the naming of an inquiry officer in late January or early February.

There won’t be a full-scale hearing, as last summer’s proceedings were.

The inquiry officer hired to conduct the process will have more informal discussions in a number of areas of the North.

“It’ll be a broader approach,” Blais said.

The decision also includes a direction that Northwestel must submit a revised tariff reflecting the changes of the decision by Feb. 4.

Under the decision, Northwestel will also no longer have to get CRTC approval on agreements it has with other telecommunications companies using its network delivered by satellite.

Blais acknowledged that the “final destination” for telecommunications service in the North has yet to be reached, but this is a good first step, he said.

Northwestel has a major role to play as the primary telecommunications provider for the three territories, but there are others which also need to be part of the solution, including government, he said.

“Northwestel cannot do this alone,” Blais said, adding there are a number of high-cost areas where additional support is needed.

The CRTC will be monitoring the progress on Northwestel’s modernization plan in the coming years and has measures it can take to ensure the plan is being implemented.

“The time for conversation and debate has moved on,” he said.

While the CRTC has powers to enforce its orders in most cases, he added, the directions are followed.

Northwestel spokeswoman Emily Hoefs said the company is reviewing the decision and will provide comment on it in soon.

The full decision is available on the CRTC’s website at

CommentsAdd a comment

June Jackson

Dec 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm

All I wanted was decent service at a price I could afford… Northwestel has not provided either..
Northwestel is owned by Bell, (owned by BCE) which generated 19.49 BILLION in revenue with a total PROFIT of 2.159 BILLION.

“CRTC’s assertion that it (Northwestel) had failed to invest adequately in its infrastructure, resulting in switches so old that they couldn’t allow for features as rudimentary (in the south) as local phone portability. This despite the fact that Northwestel had received $20 million in annual subsidies since 2007, while its annual income from operations nearly doubled to $69.3 million between 2007 and 2010. In the eyes of the CRTC, Northwestel had enriched its shareholders at the expense of customers.”

Nothing has changed, or will change..
My personal opinion is: They are so big I don’t think any government can effectively regulate them, they have everyone over a barrel and they know it.  They will continue on doing exactly what they want when they want, keep flooding CRTC, jacking rates, poor service..and enriching their CEO’s and shareholders.


Dec 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm

So, the CRTC has done its duty. It has abandoned the north. Northwestel’s monopoly is intact and consumers can go to hell.  If they really cared about the communities they serve, they wouldn’t be charging more than four times the Canadian average for its internet service. It appears our MP has also abandoned us on this file.

Merry Christmas one and all.

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