Cellular Phone Coverage

Res #: 21-04M
Number: 21
Year: 2004
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: SaskTel

Resolution No. 21-04M

WHEREAS, there are areas in Saskatchewan that do not have cellular phone service; and

WHEREAS, there are many people in these areas who rely on cell phones for use when they are on the roads to contact their families or for business and emergency purposes; and

WHEREAS, these people are paying for services that they often cannot use as fully as other people that live in areas where service is available;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM urge SaskTel Mobility to finish giving the rest of Saskatchewan this coverage within the next two years.

Response from Honourable Maynard Soontag, Minister Responsible for SaskTel:

To date, SaskTel has invested $92 million in digital cellular service in Saskatchewan, including a $12 million enhancement project for 2004. SaskTel Mobility offers digital cellular service to 94% of Saskatchewan's population, serving more than 270,000 square kilometers, making it by far the most extensive digital cellular service provider in our province. SaskTel Mobility is currently in the process creating a detailed plan to expand and improve the cellular network and will be announcing details early in 2005.

SaskTel Mobility understands that customers rely on the cellular network and they strive to ensure that coverage is as extensive as possible while continuing to offer competitive pricing and good value for service. SaskTel Mobility is working hard to provide digital cellular service in more areas. They are continually evaluating potential cellular expansion projects to determine areas where cellular service expansion and improvement are economically feasible. Expansion and improvement sites are carefully selected based on their ability to provide service that can be maintained over the long term while providing a reasonable economic rate of return.

Among other things, the detailed analysis considers such factors as population, highway traffic volumes and economic activity. As well, another option that communities may be interested in is SaskTel Mobility's Community Participation Program. This program was designed for Saskatchewan communities which request cellular service but, for one reason or another, do not meet the criteria for digital expansion.

With the Community Participation Program, SaskTel Mobility and the community work together to jointly fund the provision of digital cellular service. In this approach, a guaranteed level of new subscriber commitment and/or a capital contribution toward the establishment of cellular service helps make an investment in cellular service economically viable in that community.

For more information about the Community Participation Program, please contact Andy McFarlen, Sales Manager, SaskTel Mobility, at (306) 777-4871. Please understand that establishing and maintaining cellular service involves considerable ongoing costs, as well as the initial capital investment. As well, SaskTel Mobility operates in a highly competitive environment and is not subsidized by revenues earned from other areas of SaskTel's operations.