People in rural Saskatchewan can finally throw out those outdated modems. The government and SaskTel have launched a five-year plan to improve cell and internet service.
Those living and working in rural areas of the province have often complained that the service they receive lags behind that of those in the cities.
“Providing rural areas of our province with world-class communications services continues to be a priority for our government,” Premier Brad Wall said. “Having access to the latest technology is critical to Saskatchewan’s ability to compete and prosper in the national and global economies.”
The initiative consists of four phases:
- Phase 1: SaskTel will lead the way with an investment of $4.2 million, to expand its High Speed Fusion Internet network to 34 additional rural locations in the province, bringing the number of Fusion equipped towers to 102. The fixed wireless high speed internet service provides a reliable connection with download speeds up to 10 Mbps (Megabits per second).
Deployment of these Phase 1 improvements is already underway, with SaskTel committed to launching six of these High Speed Fusion equipped towers in the vicinities of Aberdeen, Allan, Dundurn, Marshall, Silver Park and Weyburn by the end of January 2018. The remaining towers will be in service by spring 2018.
In addition, SaskTel has applied to the federal government’s Connect to Innovate program to access funding to equip 17 additional towers with High Speed Fusion Internet service. Should funding be approved, the total number of Fusion equipped towers in the province will rise to 119.
- Phase 2: SaskTel will commence the deployment of a small cell site solution that will provide improved cellular services in 100 rural communities. Early in the new year, SaskTel will begin announcing the locations for the new sites as they become finalized. Once construction begins, SaskTel expects to complete the deployment of all small cell sites by the end of 2020.
- Phase 3: SaskTel will engage in enhancing cooperation with independent providers in Saskatchewan with the goal of increasing opportunities to improve rural wireless services in rural Saskatchewan
Earlier this summer, Melville-Saltcoats MLA Warren Kaeding, was named the Legislative Secretary to the Minister Responsible for SaskTel with a focus on rural connectivity. Kaeding will continue to work with municipalities across the province to identify coverage gaps in rural Saskatchewan, which will help SaskTel formulate a broad expansion of wireless services in rural Saskatchewan.
“I’ve been engaged with stakeholders on all sides,” Kaeding said. “Working together with organizations such as SARM and SaskTel, I’m confident that we will find a way to continue to improve services in rural locations.”
The full implementation of the plan is expected to take five years, with the first two phases completed by 2020.
Fusion towers to be completed by spring 201
- There will be 28 fusion towers in the vicinities of:
· Pike Lake
· Porcupine Plain
· Birch Hills
· Rabbitt Lake
· Red Deer Hill
· Indian Head
· Kenosee Lake