Nunatsiaq Online
COMMENTARY: Around the Arctic February 06, 2013 - 11:02 am

Northwestel president explains $233M modernization plan

"The largest modernization plan ever made by our company"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

PAUL FLAHERTY, PRESIDENT AND CEO NORTHWESTEL

There is no doubt that technology is becoming an inseparable part of our lives.

Across Canada’s North, Northwestel is extremely proud to play an active part in this transformation, connecting communities, improving the day-to-day lives of northern citizens and changing the way northern businesses are able to operate, all for the better.

As part of Northwestel’s plan for growth, we recently announced the most ambitious expansion of communications technology ever undertaken in northern Canada, and the largest modernization plan ever made by our company.

Northwestel will invest $233 million over the next five years to provide northern Canadians with access to advanced services, including faster Internet and 3G wireless networks.

This plan demonstrates our strong commitment to investing further in areas where gaps between southern and northern services exist.

We have made important progress already. In 2012 alone, we enhanced wireless capabilities in areas such as Norman Wells and Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories; Dawson City and Watson Lake, Yukon; and in the Nunavut communities of Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Arviat, Pangnirtung and Igloolik.

We’ve also partnered with other businesses to help raise the bar. For example, in July of 2012, Northwestel and Falcon Communications announced the arrival of affordable, reliable, higher-speed broadband Internet services to nine Northwest Territories communities.

Our modernization plan builds on this momentum. Over the next five years our goal is to provide infrastructure expansion so that close to 100 per cent of northerners will have access to next generation wireless and wireless broadband services.

3G wireless broadband will give our customers access to the latest handsets, smartphones and tablets. Northwestel will also launch high speed Internet in Rankin Inlet. We recently introduced the service in Cambridge Bay and increased Internet speeds in Iqaluit.

We have heard what our customers want and are delivering.

Northwestel submitted its modernization plan to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on January 16, 2013.

It is posted on our website at http://www.nwtel.ca. Making the most of the opportunities outlined in the plan requires strong support from northerners, residents and businesses alike. For this reason we encourage all northern Canadians to have their say via the public process outlined on the CRTC and Northwestel websites.

Our plan will take time to implement as there are challenges familiar to those of us in the north – challenges like delivering services across a dispersed northern geography, in extreme weather and to areas where it is widely recognized as “uneconomical” to do so.

Despite these challenges, Northwestel is fully committed to remaining a leader in northern Canada. We will continue to support local communities by providing better communications services. We will continue to seek out partnerships. We will continue to invest in initiatives that make a difference in the lives of all northerners such as funding advances in healthcare, encouraging and supporting higher education for northern residents and contributing to many local charitable organizations and events.

And as our modernization plan demonstrates, Northwestel’s ongoing commitment to improving technology will bring communities closer together, create valuable opportunities for northern businesses and improve the day-to-day lives of northern Canadians, all a reflection of our firm belief that Canada’s northern communities should have every opportunity to benefit from the best services possible.

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