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SaskTel concerned with CRTC’s Basic Service Offering decision

SaskTel concerned with CRTC’s Basic Service Offering decision

SaskTel today expressed concerns that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) recent decision regarding basic telecommunications services plans to phase out the $100M local service subsidy for rural areas in Canada including a $16M subsidy in 2016/17 for rural telephone subscribers in Saskatchewan.  The reduction in subsidy could potentially result in rate increases for SaskTel’s rural telephone customers, less investment by the Corporation in infrastructure as a result of the lost subsidy and a reduced net income affecting dividends to the Government of Saskatchewan. 

“SaskTel is very concerned that the local voice service subsidy that is being phased out was designed to keep wireline voice service affordable in high cost serving areas,” said Ron Styles, SaskTel President and CEO.  “This will impact roughly 100,000 Saskatchewan households that still rely on the local voice subsidy for affordable telephone service.” 

The CRTC set target internet access service speeds of at least 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload as the fixed broadband required to meet the newly created universal service standard.  SaskTel agrees with the CRTC that targets are necessary goals to strive towards. However, the decision indicated these are simply targets and the Commission does not expect that this service will be available to 90% of Canadian premises until the end of 2021 and the remaining 10% of Canadian premises between 2026 and 2031. 

“Even though the commission has created a new fund for broadband service, the cost to take fibre to rural Saskatchewan in itself will far exceed the entire $750M fund and it is not clear how much will be available for investment in rural Saskatchewan or when,” added Styles.  

SaskTel already provides Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Internet service to 431 communities (27 communities have speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps, 75 communities have speeds of up to 5 Mbps, and 329 communities have speeds of up to 10 Mbps or faster) across Saskatchewan.  Since 2013, SaskTel has introduced DSL Internet to 77 rural communities and upgraded the DSL Internet speeds in over 300 communities.  In addition, SaskTel introduced HS Fusion Internet service in 2014 and now covers over 700 communities with 68 Fusion equipped towers. 

Currently SaskTel can offer speeds that either meet or exceed the CRTC’s new targets in the fibre served communities of Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Estevan, Weyburn, and Prince Albert.  SaskTel also recently announced that infiNET will be coming to Yorkton and Rosthern in 2017 with construction continuing in Regina and Saskatoon.  SaskTel’s fixed broadband internet services already offer unlimited data with the exception of Fusion as it is a shared fixed wireless technology. 

For a summary of the CRTC’s key decision points, please visit http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1172409  

About SaskTel

SaskTel is the leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) provider in Saskatchewan, with over $1.2 billion in annual revenue and approximately 1.4 million customer connections including 617,000 wireless accesses, 389,000 wireline network accesses, 273,000 Internet accesses and 111,000 maxTV™ subscribers. SaskTel and its wholly-owned subsidiaries offer a wide range of ICT products and services including competitive voice, data and Internet services, wireless data services, maxTV services, data centre services, cloud-based services, security monitoring services, advertising services, and international software and consulting services. SaskTel and its wholly-owned subsidiaries have a workforce of approximately 4,000 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). Visit SaskTel at sasktel.com. 

For more information, please contact: 

Michelle Englot, SaskTel Director of External Communications
Phone: (306) 777.4476
Email: michelle.englot@sasktel.com