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CRTC launches public consultation on Northwestel’s services


Northern residents are being asked for feedback on the affordability and quality of phone and data services – particularly those offered by Northwestel.

Northwestel is the North’s dominant provider of phone and internet services. It lacks a large rival and therefore telecoms regulator the CRTC pays close attention to the company’s operations.

The new survey is being run on the CRTC’s behalf.

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“The CRTC is seeking to better understand the state of telephone, wireless, and internet services in the areas served by Northwestel,” read a news release issued by the regulator.

“This will help determine whether more needs to be done to ensure Canadians living there have access to high-quality services at reasonable rates.”

Northwestel last week announced its keenly anticipated rollout of unlimited internet plans in some communities would be delayed, saying the CRTC needed more time to assess its proposal. (The CRTC says it won’t comment on an active file.)

Smaller northern provider SSI Micro had filed an intervention in that process, claiming Northwestel’s plans for unlimited packages were anti-competitive.

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The survey launching this week is not directly related to the introduction of unlimited plans.

Residents are being asked for their comments on issues like affordability, quality – meaning things like internet speeds, mobile coverage, and service reliability – and how the CRTC could foster competition in the North.

Feedback is accepted until January 20, 2021 via this online form; writing to the secretary general at CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2; or sending a fax (which would be one way to make a point about northern internet speeds) to 819-994-0218.

“All comments submitted will form part of the public record and will inform the CRTC’s decision,” the regulator stated.

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