Expansion of Cellular Service

Res #: 22-03M
Number: 22
Year: 2003
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: SaskTel

Resolution No. 22-03M

BE IT RESOLVED, that cellular phone service be expanded so that more remote areas of the province can be served.

Response from Honourable Maynard Sonntag, Minister Responsible for SaskTel:

I am pleased to tell you that SaskTel Mobility is in the midst of a $16-million project to expand and improve digital cellular service in the province, to be completed by mid-2004. Announced in July 2003, this major investment brings SaskTel Mobility's total digital network investment to $80 million since 1998. Besides expanding the network to previously unserved areas and improving service in existing coverage areas, the current investment will deliver access to 1xRTT, a new wireless data technology, across the digital network. Both residential and business customers across the province will benefit from these improvements.

In addition, we will soon be announcing an additional investment in our cellular network for 2004, further demonstrating our commitment to providing the most extensive high quality network in Saskatchewan. SaskTel Mobility offers service in many remote areas and is particularly pleased to be the only cellular service provider offering service to northern areas of the province, including La Ronge, Big River, Spiritwood, Meadow Lake, Pierceland, St. Walburg, Hudson Bay, Nipiwan and Carrot River.

By the end of 2003, 94% of Saskatchewan residents will have access to cellular service. Even so, when it comes to rural and remote areas, there are other factors to keep in mind. For examples, trees and terrain can have a negative impact on the cellular network, making it difficult to provide consistent service across and wide area. SaskTel Mobility recognizes the high demand among people in rural areas for high quality wireless communication services.

As a result, we are continually evaluating potential cellular expansion and improvement projects throughout the province. SaskTel Mobility's analysis takes many factors into consideration, including population, economic activity and highway traffic. This analysis enables SaskTel Mobility to determine the areas where expansion and improvements to cellular service are economically feasible.

Please understand that SaskTel Mobility operated in a highly competitive environment and is not subsidized by revenues earned from other areas of SaskTel's operations. Expansion 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. Establishing and maintaining cellular service involves considerable ongoing costs, as well as the initial capital investment.