Bringing High Speed Internet to 100 per cent of Saskatchewan population and Cellular to 98 per cent
SaskTel will invest $220 million in its Saskatchewan network in 2009, which includes $42.4 million from the Government of Saskatchewan for year one of a three year Rural Infrastructure Program. Residential and business customers in communities across the province can expect improved and expanded SaskTel services as a result of this latest major capital investment.
"With this major network investment, SaskTel is continuing its commitment to Saskatchewan," Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said. "As SaskTel moves into its second century, residential and business customers can look forward to improved and expanded service in 2009 and beyond."
"Since 1987, SaskTel has invested more than $3.2 billion in our Saskatchewan network," SaskTel President and CEO Robert Watson said. "In 2009, we will continue our efforts to deliver expanded coverage, increased bandwidth and even better service to our Saskatchewan customers."
Highlights of this year's investment program include:
- In 2009, SaskTel will invest $48.5 million to begin construction of a new $172 million Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS)/High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) wireless network, which is the next evolution of GSM technology. UMTS/HSPA is a next generation wireless network which will enable SaskTel customers to enjoy the benefits of using UMTS/HSPA compatible cellular and data devices. The first phase of the new network build, which will provide coverage in the major Saskatchewan centers, is expected to be available early 2010. Full coverage, similar to today's digital cellular coverage, is anticipated to be available by the end of 2010.
- With the continued investment in next generation networks, SaskTel will be shutting down its analog network mid-2010. The majority of cellular service providers across Canada and in the U.S. no longer support analog roaming, vendors have discontinued support of the analog network and device suppliers no longer manufacture analog devices. The continued evolution of our network infrastructure will provide the residents of Saskatchewan with exceptional wireless service.
- In 2009, SaskTel will begin the Rural Infrastructure Program to deliver 100 per cent high speed Internet coverage and improved wireless coverage across the province within three years.
- As part of this program, SaskTel will provide digital cellular service to 55 locations by the end of 2011.
- In 2009, SaskTel will invest $37.6 million to expand and improve its existing wireless network, including the addition of 12 out of the 55 new digital cellular sites across the province.
- This year, SaskTel will invest $43 million to expand rural broadband. This includes upgrading the rural backbone infrastructure to provide an enhanced transport network that will deliver basic high speed Internet (5 Mpbs) to approximately 90 out of the 187 communities by the end of 2009.
- Under the Rural Infrastructure Program, SaskTel has recently concluded an agreement with Barrett Xplore Inc, who operates Xplornet Internet Services, Canada's largest rural broadband provider. The agreement calls on Barrett Xplore to deliver SaskTel Satellite High Speed Internet powered by Xplornet to rural areas that do not have access to SaskTel's other High Speed Internet services. Full details regarding the service availability will be announced in June 2009.
- As part of the Rural Infrastructure Program, SaskTel is also seeking private sector partners to make proposals to provide high speed Internet to 13 towns out of the 66 new towns that are becoming part of CommunityNet, as well as other unserved areas of the province. SaskTel is exploring partnership options which would allow private sector companies to provide residential high speed Internet in the community in return for a subsidy.
- Next Generation Access Infrastructure (NGAI) - Initiated in 2006, NGAI is a five-year $310 million program to offer increased bandwidth by providing fiber optic cable closer to customer homes and businesses. In 2009, the third year of the NGAI program, SaskTel will invest approximately $11.9 million to continue to increase the bandwidth of SaskTel's access network.
- Evolving SaskTel's leading-edge MaxTM Entertainment Services - Max is full-featured digital television service with over 180 digital TV channels, 40 HD channels, Digital TV Recorder, High Speed Internet, Video-on-Demand, Pay-Per-View and Local on Demand. SaskTel will invest approximately $12.8 million in MaxTM this year to meet customer demand and make ongoing enhancements.
- Basic network growth and enhancements - $61.4 million.
Saskatchewan Telecommunications Holding Corporation (SaskTel) is the leading full service communications provider in Saskatchewan, with $1.138 billion in annual revenue and over 1.3 million customer connections including over 510,000 wireless accesses, 555,000 wireline network accesses, 216,000 Internet accesses and 70,000 MaxTM (TV) subscribers. SaskTel offers a wide range of communications products and services including competitive voice, data, Internet, entertainment, national security, messaging, cellular, wireless data and directory services. In addition, SaskTel International offers software solutions and project consulting in countries around the world. In 2008, SaskTel contributed over $610 million to the Saskatchewan economy through dollars spent with Saskatchewan-based suppliers and sponsorships to non-profit organizations. SaskTel and its wholly-owned subsidiaries have a workforce of approximately 5,000 employees. Visit SaskTel at www.sasktel.com
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