DID Provider Iristel and ICE Wireless Continue Opposition against NorthwesTel for Modernization, Funding Plan
On the heels of last week’s commentary provided by DID provider, Iristel and partnering company, ICE Wireless regarding NorthwesTel’s attempt to funnel money to them in an attempt to keep competition out of the North, the companies have followed up with additional insight into the modernization plan.
NorthwesTel Iristel and ICE Wireless have upped the ante in their opposition to NorthwesTel’s proposal to tie its infrastructure upgrade to benefits stemming from Bell’s pending acquisition of Astral Media.
According to Iristel, NorthwesTel's attempt to funnel $40 million from its parent company Bell Canada (News - Alert) to build infrastructure should be rejected by the federal regulator but if allowed, the money should be available to all phone companies building infrastructure and innovation in the North.
"We are opposed to the so-called 'public benefits' money being used in this manner, but if allowed then competitors should have fair access to this money to improve telecommunications and the competitive marketplace in the North," said Samer Bishay, president of both Ice Wireless and Iristel, two Canadian companies partnering to knock down the last telecom monopoly walls in North America.
In fact, 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, which Bell owns. Without this $40 million, NorthwesTel threatens to pull back network modernization in smaller communities, according to a recent statement.
Bishay added that all the carriers are already spending money to improve infrastructure in the North, but the question remains of whether it is a public benefit to have NorthwesTel get all the Astral money. NorthwesTel has a history of squandering subsidies and neglecting its infrastructure and customers, according to Iristel and ICE’s president.
“In December, the CRTC ruled that NorthwesTel abused its monopoly because its shareholders benefited far more than its customers under the previous regulatory framework. The CRTC then opened the North to competition so customers could benefit, too. And if the commission approves the public benefits scheme as proposed by NorthwesTel it will harm competition in many ways if the money is not shared with competitors," Bishay continued.
"If this $40 million public benefits is allowed, the North can benefit far more by the CRTC administering the fund and awarding the money to those with innovative ideas and firm commitments to improve infrastructure and service," said Cameron Zubko, ICE's Vice President Corporate Development. "NorthwesTel is already receiving $20 million a year from the CRTC's National Contribution Fund to help bring the North's telecommunications standards up to the rest of Canada and we all know that has not happened."
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