Iristel and ICE Wireless Comment on NorthwesTel's Proposed Funding Plan
As developments in the NorthwesTel modernization plan continue to progress, ICE Wireless and Iristel have spoken out on the notion that NorthwesTel’s parent company, Bell Canada (News - Alert), is attempting to funnel money to them in an attempt to keep competition out of the North.
You may recall a couple months back when ICE and Iristel joined forces partnering to create a ‘new era of competition’ in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut to ease the issue of the digital divide by expanding the range of telecommunciations and Internet services available in these areas.
According to Samer Bishay, president of both ICE Wireless and Iristel, the way the North currently operates is not working. "What has happened historically speaking, monopolies don’t work we’ve seen it many times over and it just creates an unfair ground for competition to happen,” Bishay said. "A lot of us have become accustomed to this environment, but it doesn’t have to be like this. With a competitive market environment in the North you will see a drop in prices right across the board and that’s what ICE Wireless and Iristel intend to provide."
Earlier this month, NorthwesTel announced a five-year wireless network upgrade with a significant portion tied to the CRTC allowing Bell to funnel $40 million of the "public benefits" from the Astral Media deal to NorthwesTel. Without this $40 million, NorthwesTel threatens to pull back network modernization in smaller Northern communities.
By joining forces, ICE and Iristel intends to provide a viable bundled communications solution to Canada's northern communities for a range of telephony services. According to Iristel, the company has already received orders for more than a million monthly wholesale long distance minutes into Northwestel's service area which will be delivered via ICE's northern-based network. In an interview last week, NorthwesTel said their intention is to improve connections and to go above and beyond CRTC requirements when it comes to service in the North.
"This is nothing short of a shell game by NorthwesTel and its owner Bell Canada to move money around in a last gasp attempt to keep competition and innovation out of the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut," Bishay told Yellowknife.
Furthermore, Bishay expects the CRTC to see through the Bell-NorthwesTel public benefits scheme, but if not he urges the commission to make sure competitors have full and fair access to NorthwesTel's upgraded network in a timely manner.
To find out more about Iristel visit the company at ITEXPO West 2012. To be held Oct. 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premiere communications and technology event. Visit Iristel booth # 420. For more information on ITEXPO West 2012 click here.
Edited by Juliana Kenny