Northwestel agrees to make Internet and mobile wireless improvements to benefit Northerners to rectify non-compliance

News release

June 12, 2019 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

The CRTC announced today that Northwestel has agreed to spend $5 million in new and unplanned investments to upgrade its network infrastructure further to a contravention of the Telecommunications Act. Over a period of seven years, Northwestel failed to obtain the CRTC’s approval for the rates it charged for nine telecommunications services. Northwestel brought the non-compliance to the Commission’s attention.

Commission staff and Northwestel reached a settlement that directs the investments in a manner that meaningfully benefits the northern communities Northwestel serves. Specifically, Northwestel will invest:

  • $3 million to bring fibre to First Nation offices, schools, health centres and government offices in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and northern British Columbia, and;
  • $2 million dollars to expand cellphone service along highways and major roads in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Northwestel has committed to finishing construction of the projects within three years.


“We take Northwestel’s non-compliance with its regulatory obligations very seriously. The corrective measures put in place will lead to investments that will have a positive effect in northern communities. The upgraded network infrastructure will enhance the quality of life and safety of Northerners through access to faster Internet service and wider cellphone coverage along major highways.”

Ian Scott, Chairperson and CEO of the CRTC

Quick facts

  • Northwestel contravened section 25(1) of the Telecommunications Act, which stipulates that no Canadian carrier shall provide telecommunications services unless it is in accordance with a tariff filed with and approved by the CRTC.

  • In 2018, the CRTC denied Northwestel’s application seeking retroactive approval for the rates associated with the services in question, indicating that the non-compliance represented a systemic disregard for the company’s regulatory obligations and the CRTC’s authority as a regulator.

  • Under the Telecommunications Act, the CRTC can enter into an undertaking with service providers to rectify non-compliance.

  • The undertaking resolves any outstanding issues related to the non-compliance identified in Northwestel’s application. Northwestel had already, of its own accord, implemented internal regulatory compliance safeguards.

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