Ice Wireless makes a pitch for northern 911 service

An Inuvik-based telephone company says it can provide a better 911 service to rural communities than that proposed by NorthwesTel. ‘Someone having a heart attack, for example, is not going to have the time to press 1 for this and 2 for that.’

'We do not believe that NorthwesTel's solution... is at all appropriate,' says Cameron Zubko

A telephone company in Inuvik, N.W.T. says it can provide a better 911 service to rural communities than that proposed by NorthwesTel.

The Yukon government has already tested an interim solution that would work on landlines throughout the territory, but NorthwesTel still needs to obtain a licence from the CRTC.

The chief operation officer of Ice Wireless says his company already has the license, staff and infrastructure to answer 911 calls.

“Ice Wireless has a live operator and a 24 hour call centre standing by for the Yukon and we hope that the government is receptive to the proposal,” says Cameron Zubko.

Zubko says his company’s system is superior to an interim solution proposed by NorthwesTel, which would prompt callers to press either 1, 2 or 3 to indicate whether they want an ambulance, police or fire department.

"Someone having a heart attack, for example, is not going to have the time to press 1 for this and 2 for that. We do not believe that NorthwesTel's recorded solution... is at all appropriate."

Zubko says if the government teamed up with his company, it could bypass the CRTC process.

Rob Hopkins is an advocate with the Utilities Consumers Group.

He criticizes the Yukon Government for not giving other Yukon businesses a chance to be involved in the project.

"This is about propping up Northwestel,” Hopkins says. “Not providing 911 service to the communities."

CBC has requested a response from the Yukon Government's Community Services department.

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