November 5, 2010
At Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) public hearings this week examining issues associated with local telephone service, several large cable and phone companies (including Shaw, Rogers, Telus and Bell) have proposed that local telephone rates in rural Canada should be increased by approximately 50% or higher.
“We believe that these proposed local rate increases are unacceptable and that many residents are unaware of what is being proposed” said Ron Styles, SaskTel President and CEO. “In our view, if the CRTC is going to accept such rate increases, then the public must have an opportunity to comment on the impact it would have on them. We are calling on the CRTC to launch a full public review in all regions of the country before any significant rate increases are imposed.”
The National Contribution Fund has been the vehicle used to ensure affordable local phone service to rural residents. It has proven to be an effective and efficient policy instrument.
However, during the basic telephone service proceeding, large telephone and cable companies are arguing that the National Contribution Fund is broken and that monthly telephone rates must be allowed to increase to $34 or higher. As a result, customers living in rural and northern areas could face increases of approximately 50% or higher in what they pay for local telephone service.
These rate proposals fail to address the sharp inequalities in employment and incomes across the country. Today, most rural and northern residents do not understand the magnitude of the impact this public hearing could have on them. Saskatchewan rural residents and First Nations people must be included in such an important issue.
Saskatchewan Telecommunications Holding Corporation (SaskTel) is the leading full service communications provider in Saskatchewan, with $1.15 billion in annual revenue and more than 1.4 million customer connections including more than 550,000 wireless accesses, 543,000 wireline network accesses, 225,000 Internet accesses and 77,000 Max™ (TV) subscribers. SaskTel offers a wide range of communications products and services including competitive voice, data, Internet, entertainment, national security, messaging, cellular, wireless data and directory services. In addition, SaskTel International offers software solutions and project consulting in countries around the world. In 2009, SaskTel contributed more than $651 million to the Saskatchewan economy through dollars spent with Saskatchewan-based suppliers and sponsorships to non-profit organizations. SaskTel and its wholly-owned subsidiaries have a workforce of approximately 4,800 employees.
For more information, please contact:
Darcee MacFarlane, Corporate Communications
Phone: (306) 777-4441