Northwestel to invest $270M in upgrades

Companys plans for high speed internet access, 3G and 4G wireless broadband for smartphones and tablets in all Northern communities

Companys plans for high-speed internet, advanced wireless across the north

Northwestel plans to invest more than $270 million over the next five years to improve its network.

All communities in the three territories would have access to new services, including high-speed internet access and 3G and 4G wireless broadband.

If that happens, devices such as iPhones, newer BlackBerries and tablets would work across the North.

The company said the investment is part of its modernization plan and the improvements won’t cost customers more.

"By making wireless and wireless broadband available, it's actually going to give people in the North, particularly in Nunavut, access to broadcast content on the Internet," said Paul Flaherty, Northwestel’s president and CEO.

He hopes some of the money for the changes will come from Bell's purchase of Astral Media.

Bell owns Northwestel, and the deal could see $40 million come north.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission ordered Northwestel to submit a modernization plan in its decision that ended the company's monopoly.

But Flaherty said it's not the only reason his company is making these investments.    "It's probably a little bit less about the CRTC and more about the opportunity with the Astral funding."

 He said the process should start in the next couple of weeks.

 Northwestel submitted its modernization plan to the CRTC on July 3. The regulator needs to approve the investment.