News

CRTC seeks second round of northern telecoms feedback


Broadcast and internet regulator the CRTC has announced the second phase of its consultation on telecommunications in the North.

The commission on Wednesday said it wants to hear from northern residents about how to make phone and internet services more affordable, reliable and competitive, and how it can better support reconciliation with Indigenous people. 

The consultation includes the NWT, Nunavut, Yukon, northern BC, and Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta.

Advertisement.

“We need to collaborate with people living and working in the far North to ensure they have a similar level of service as the south,” Ian Scott, the CRTC’s chair and chief executive, said in a statement.

“This is your chance to tell us about the particular needs for broadband internet and telephone services in your community.”

Services like internet have long been notoriously lower-quality and less reliable in the North than elsewhere in Canada due to factors like the relatively small population, vast geographic area, and difficult building conditions for infrastructure.

The Covid-19 pandemic, in which many people worked and studied from home, highlighted the digital divide between the North and south. 

During its first consultation phase, the CRTC said respondents stressed the need to improve services so northern residents are not excluded from social and economic opportunities. Residents called for more internet provider choice and competition. 

Advertisement.

Northwestel is the dominant provider in the North and, in many communities, the only option. Due to the lack of competition, the CRTC regulates Northwestel’s home phone and terrestrial internet services. It does not, however, regulate Northwestel’s satellite-based retail and wholesale internet services. 

People can submit comments on how to improve telecommunications services in the North by October 6. A public hearing on the issue will be held in Whitehorse on April 17, 2023.

Advertisement.