Thursday, December 15, 2011

CRTC opens Canada’s North to local telephone competition

OTTAWA-GATINEAU, December 14, 2011. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that it is opening Canada’s North to local telephone competition. Residents in many parts of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut will have the option to choose from competing telephone service providers as of May 1, 2012.

“For the first time, many northern residents will be able to choose an alternate local telephone service provider,” said Leonard Katz, the CRTC’s Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications. “Competition will be introduced as soon as possible to bring choice and innovative options to Canada’s North.”

In its ruling, the CRTC has also denied Northwestel’s request to raise by $2 the rates for residential and business local telephone service. Such an increase is not justified at this time and is inconsistent with the current regulatory regime. Moreover, the CRTC found that Northwestel has insufficiently invested in its network despite its strong financial performance during the past few years, and is concerned that the company’s aging infrastructure is affecting the quality and reliability of its service.

Northwestel must provide, within the next six months, a plan detailing how it will modernize its network. This will form the basis of the CRTC’s comprehensive review of Northwestel’s infrastructure and services over the next two years.

“We are disappointed that Northwestel, which has until now been the sole provider of local telephone service in the North, has not made a greater effort to improve its services,” Mr. Katz added. “Many communities have been plagued by service outages and certain features are not widely available to customers. Northern residents deserve to have access to reliable and high-quality services comparable to those offered in the rest of the country.”

During the next two years, the CRTC will closely monitor the situation in the North as local competition is implemented.

Today’s decision follows a proceeding that included a public hearing that was held in Yellowknife, N.W.T., on October 4 and 5, 2011. 

Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-302

Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2011-771

The CRTC is an independent public authority that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.
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