CRTC ruling opens Canada's North Territory to competitors

Starting next May, residential and business customers in Canada's North region will be able to choose from more than one provider for phone service as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) opened the area to competition.

Telephone customers in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut regions will be able to purchase service from other carriers besides Northwestel, part of Bell Canada (NYSE: BCE), which has been the only provider of local telephone service in the far northern regions.

"For the first time, many northern residents will be able to choose an alternate local telephone service provider," said Leonard Katz, the CRTC's vice-chairman of telecommunications in a statement. "Competition will be introduced as soon as possible to bring choice and innovative options to Canada's North."

In issuing its ruling, the CRTC denied Northwestel's request to raise residential and business local telephone rates by $2, arguing that the increase is "not justified at this time and is inconsistent with the current regulatory regime."

Despite its strong financial performance in recent years, the CRTC found that Northwestel hasn't invested enough in upgrading and maintaining its current network, and that the older infrastructure is causing service degradation. To counter that problem, the CRTC has mandated that Northwestel submit a network modernization plan, which will be part of the regulator's ongoing two-year review of the telco's infrastructure and services.  

For more:
- see the release

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