Improvements to Rural Wireless Communications Services Coming Soon to Saskatchewan
The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to announce the launch of a four-phase initiative that will provide rural communities with enhanced access to reliable cellular and high speed internet services.
Developed in consultation with SaskTel, this program will secure a path to economic growth in rural communities by ensuring they have the communications tools they need to attract and retain residents, meet the needs of local businesses, and encourage greater investment in their community.
“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 are 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.
“SaskTel remains committed to delivering a faster and more reliable internet service to rural areas of the province,” Minister Responsible for SaskTel Joe Hargrave said. “There has been a fantastic adoption of its Fusion internet service and this expansion will enable residents in more rural areas to have access to a high-quality internet service.”
- 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.
“SaskTel continues to be a leader in providing world-class cellular and internet services to rural communities,” SaskTel Acting President and CEO Doug Burnett said. “Throughout its history, SaskTel has found innovative ways to continue expanding the services we offer in rural communities.”
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.
- Phase 4: 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. The Government of Saskatchewan expects the consultations being done in Phases 3 and 4 of the plan, which will be completed concurrently with the deployment of Phases 1 and 2 will produce made-in-Saskatchewan solutions that will provide rural communities with the tools they need to succeed.