High Speed Internet and Rural Saskatchewan
Res #: 6-21M
Responses Received: Yes
WHEREAS The municipalities have sent in request for better internet service to SaskTel in rural areas; and
WHEREAS the response back from SaskTel was less than satisfactory; and
WHEREAS the Rural Municipality of Hoodoo includes many properties around Wakaw Lake.
BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Province of Saskatchewan to bring higher speed services into areas that are currently experiencing interruptions and weak signals.
Responses From: SaskTel
January 20, 2022
SaskTel is committed to providing the best possible wireless and Internet services to Saskatchewan’s rural areas and communities, including the R.M. of Hoodoo which continues to experience growth and development in the areas surrounding Wakaw Lake.
Since 2018, through our Wireless Saskatchewan initiative which was designed to improve wireless connectivity and high speed internet services in rural part of the province, SaskTel invested over $107 million. SaskTel constructed small cell sites that enhanced wireless coverage in 105 rural communities; installed 89 new towers to improve coverage in busy provincial parks, along highways, and in rural areas; improved wireless data capacity in 11 resort communities through enhancing existing cell towers; and expanded its High Speed Fusion Internet network to 34 new towers.
However, SaskTel, as a provider, faces a unique challenge in providing these services to one of the most geographically dispersed populations in the country.
At present, SaskTel delivers wireless services to areas in the R.M. of Hoodoo primarily through our Wakaw tower, located just north of West Osze Beach.
Currently, the majority of the RM receives good-to-fair network coverage according to our map and coverage data. This data can be accessed through SaskTel’s Wireless Network & Coverage tool at www.sasktel.com. That said, I recognize that concerns have been raised by ratepayers about limited coverage in the Town of Wakaw and recurring service level issues during resort season (May to August) including slow data speeds.
Unfortunately, as you’re aware, the range and quality of wireless service provided by any tower depends on a number of factors including but not limited to weather conditions, local natural and built topography, and distance to the nearest cell tower. Taking into consideration these variables, and others, SaskTel cannot guarantee wireless service, much like any provider.
Although there are no projects planned for the R.M. at this time, wireless users in the area will eventually benefit from speed and capacity improvements as we build out our SG network over the coming years. In all, SaskTel will be investing more than $500 million over the next five years to expand SG to areas across the province. However, at this point I cannot advise when our Wakaw site will be upgraded in our multi-year network plan.
In terms of rural Internet options, residents in the area can continue to access SaskTel’s High Speed Fusion service which offers download speeds up to 10 Mbps (megabits per second). While we do not have any additional upgrades planned for Fusion at this time, interested consumers can consult a SaskTel Authorized Dealer such as GL Mobile Communications or Prairie Mobile Communications for more information. The Town of Wakaw remains served by our DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) network.
I understand and appreciate that many residents and businesses would like improved services sooner rather than later. An option the R.M. of Hoodoo or any of its communities may wish to investigate is SaskTel’s Community Participation Program. Through it, customers or communities pay a portion or all of the required capital costs as determined by SaskTel on a case-by-case basis.
Any resident or council member can reach out to find out more about the program and potential costs. The primary contact for SaskTel’s Community Participation Program is Bill Beckman, SaskTel’s Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, who can be reached at 306-777-4208.
Please know that SaskTel also continues to seek out partnerships and other opportunities in order to bring improved connectivity to underserved farms, acreages, and other hard to serve rural areas in Saskatchewan.
Doug Burnett – President and Chief Executive Officer