CRTC Tweaks NorthWesTel’s Modernization Plan to Meet Consumer Expectations

by Istvan Fekete on December 19, 2013

Shortly after the government announced that it was aiming to cap domestic roaming fees and add more power to telecom regulators, the CRTC made public the plan it had laid out for NorthwesTel, a Bell Canada subsidiary. The plan aims to get the Bell subsidiary services in line with consumer expectations in the “second decade of the 21st century.”

As CRTC Commissioner Jean-Pierre Blais said on Wednesday, NorthwesTel has plans to spend $233 million by 2017 to enhance its services in the area, such as offering caller ID and call waiting, as well as improved Internet services and faster wireless networks.

“You get the impression that, in the North, we’re talking about things that we take for granted here and have for a number of years,” Blais said in an interview from Gatineau, Que.

“On top of that, it’s not just catching up to what we had 10 years ago. It’s about how do you get these communities up to par to what we expect in the second decade of the 21st century,” Blais said.

According to the CRTC, 70 communities now have access to call display, call answer and call waiting services. By 2017, all 96 communities will have access to these services as part of NorthwesTel’s network enhancements.

Furthermore, the regulator says it has taken steps to help consumers in the area, including a four-year price cap on services, and directed the carrier to offer Internet, voice and landlines separately, with hopes for emerging competition.

The announcement comes after the CRTC required NorthwesTel to submit a modernization plan back in 2011, because it felt the carrier was lazy about investment in a “modern, reliable, affordable network”.

After reviewing NorthwesTel’s modernization plan, the federal regulator said that it required some tweaks, and will certainly keep an eye on the implementation, because, for example, the plan didn’t address the needs of communities relying on satellite-based Internet services. The explanation is pretty straightforward: it is too expensive.

NorthwesTel reacted immediately to the release, saying it is pleased to see support from the CRTC. However, at this moment it cannot comment further on the guidelines, as it is a complex decision and has to dig deeper into the details.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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