Cell Phone Coverage
Res #: 34-16M
Responses Received: Yes
WHEREAS cell phone coverage and Internet access in rural Saskatchewan are nonexistent or unreliable at best; and
WHEREAS municipalities all over the province are losing business because of poor coverage; and
WHEREAS businesses and individuals in Canada are losing revenues because they are having to pay U.S. roaming charges;
BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Provincial and Federal Governments to improve cell phone and Internet service access across Saskatchewan as quickly as possible; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these services be available to municipalities and rural residents at a reasonable cost.
Responses From: SaskTel
June 29, 2020
In the time that has passed since the initial passing of Resolution 34-16M in 2016, SaskTel has continued to make strategic investments to expand our coverage footprint and improve the overall scope of services available for our rural customers. Currently, SaskTel’s wireless and Internet networks extend to 99 percent of Saskatchewan’s population.
SaskTel's network covers significantly more of rural Saskatchewan than any other wireless provider. Moreover, additions to our extensive wireless network since 2016 have ensured that mobile services reach an even larger proportion of Saskatchewan’s population. SaskTel’s wireless network now includes over 900 separate cell sites.
On December 5, 2017, the Government of Saskatchewan announced an initiative to improve Internet and cellular services in rural Saskatchewan.
Included in that announcement was the addition of 34 new Fusion sites to improve rural Internet availability. SaskTel Fusion interNET service is now available from 106 wireless towers serving over 700 communities throughout Saskatchewan.
In addition, small cell sites are to be constructed in 105 rural communities to improve cellular service. As of May 31, 2020, SaskTel has put 103 of these towers into service.
In September 2019, SaskTel announced plans to launch 15 new macro towers to fill in coverage gaps in busy provincial parks, along major highways and in rural areas with little or no cellular coverage. All 15 of these macro towers are expected to be in-service by the end of June 2020.
All that said, we realize there are parts of the province that remain underserved and noticeable coverage gaps persist in some rural areas. As more of us rely on our smartphones and wireless Internet connectivity to conduct day-to-day business, we understand that more needs to be done to ensure the level and availability of service keeps pace with the demands of modern life.
However, it is important to note that it does take significant capital investment to build up our networks in rural areas where the cost of connecting each customer is higher. Unfortunately, in many cases, it is difficult to develop a positive business case for extending service to rural areas with lower population densities.
For communities not currently included in SaskTel’s expansion plans, our Community Participation Program remains a successful framework for groups of customers and smaller communities to access SaskTel’s networks.
The program is designed for Saskatchewan communities that do not have service, or currently have inadequate service, in their area and are not scheduled to receive service under SaskTel’s selection process.
For those communities interested in learning more about this program, please contact Bill Beckman, SaskTel’s Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, at 306-777-4208.
Doug Burnett – President & CEO of SaskTel