Northern Canada's telecommunications provider is proposing a series of changes to its phone rates, including a $2 increase to monthly phone bills and lower rates for teleconference services.
Northwestel has made the proposal to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which has initiated a review of the company's services.
Northwestel offers phone, cable television, internet and mobile services in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, as well as in parts of northern British Columbia and Alberta.
The company has asked the CRTC to approve the $2 increase to monthly phone bills because it faces higher operating costs than southern phone companies, given the North's geography and large service area.
"In this age of technology we have, in the North, come to expect similar services to be provided of the same quality, which Northwestel is always striving to provide," company spokesperson Emily Younker told CBC News.
Northwestel has an operating area of almost four million square kilometres "and it's over very rugged terrain." she said.
Despite the challenges Northwestel faces, its service "continues to be what we believe is very low-priced," Younker said.
The purpose of the CRTC review, is to bring northern telecommunications services in line with the rest of Canada, which Younker said could involve lowering rates in some cases.
Northwestel is proposing lower rates for teleconferencing services, as well as lower rates for competing companies to buy access to long-distance phone services.
Younker said the latter move would translate into more choices, such as Skype and voice over IP (VoIP) service, for northern customers.
"Were another company to come in, this would reduce the cost to offer toll plans," she said.
The CRTC is planning to hold a hearing on Northwestel's proposal this fall. People who want to speak at the hearing have until Aug. 22 to submit comments.