CRTC invites Canadians to share their views on telecom services in the North

News release

CRTC launches public consultation on Northwestel’s services

November 2, 2020 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

The CRTC is inviting Canadians living in the North to provide feedback on telecommunications services in the North, and particularly those offered by Northwestel.

The CRTC is seeking to better understand the state of telephone, wireless and Internet services in the areas served by Northwestel. This will help determine whether more needs to be done to ensure Canadians living there have access to high-quality services at reasonable rates.

Among other things, the CRTC is seeking comments on:

  • the affordability of telecommunications services for residents and businesses in the North
  • the quality of telecommunications services, including Internet speeds, mobile coverage and service reliability, and
  • how the CRTC may foster competition in the North.

Canadians are encouraged to share their opinions by January 20, 2021 using one of the following methods:

All comments submitted will form part of the public record and will inform the CRTC’s decision.


“Now more than ever, telecommunications services have become indispensable for Canadians no matter where they live. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the digital divide between Canada’s North and South. We would like to hear from northern Canadians about their experiences related to telecommunications services so we can help bridge the divide and ensure that they have high-quality services at affordable prices.”

Ian Scott, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC

Quick facts

  • Northwestel serves a population of 125,000 residents in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, northern British Columbia and Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta.

  • The CRTC has a framework in place specific to Northwestel and regulates its retail rates for local telephone and broadband Internet services.

  • Through this review, the Commission will consider the appropriate regulatory approach to ensure, among other things, that Canadians living in the North have access to affordable local telephone and broadband Internet services.

  • In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission has approved various applications submitted by Northwestel to provide relief to their customers by temporarily waiving data overage fees for some of their services and increasing usage caps across a range of broadband Internet packages.

  • The CRTC is currently considering Northwestel’s application to offer unlimited data on certain residential and business plans.

  • The Commission has other initiatives in place to address Canada’s digital divide, including the Broadband Fund, which will, as part of its first round of funding, provide Northwestel with funding for four projects to improve broadband Internet services in 46 communities in the North.

  • The CRTC is also examining potential barriers to the deployment of broadband Internet networks in underserved areas in Canada, including access to telephone poles.

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