North

CRTC approves Northwestel request to waive internet overage fees

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved on Monday an application from Northwestel to waive internet bandwidth caps for communities with cable internet service.

Clearance comes after Northwestel drops demand for reinstated subsidy

Northwestel users will get temporary relief from the company's internet overage charges under a measure approved by the CRTC Monday.

Social distancing just got a little less expensive for northern internet customers.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved on Monday an application from Northwestel to waive internet bandwidth caps for communities with cable internet service. Those include Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Norman Wells and Carcross.

The move also grants large increases in monthly data for users in other communities. Nunavut communities that get satellite DSL service will see their monthly caps double. Satellite DSL communities in the Northwest Territories and Yukon will see their caps increase 50 per cent.

All communities on terrestrial DSL, including Hay River, Watson Lake and Dawson City, will get an increase of 100 GB per month.

Northwestel said the move is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Northern Canadians, especially those located in our major centres, are being directed to work from home and reduce social contact just like the rest of Canada," wrote Northwestel vice-president Stan Thompson in a filing to the CRTC.

"Thus, we seek to support our customers in a similar manner as other Internet Service Providers ... are supporting their customers in the rest of Canada."

The increase comes at no cost and will be applied to bills automatically. It applies during March and April only.

The CRTC approved an amended version of the request Monday. Northwestel's original filing tied the waiving of overage fees to the reinstatement of about $6 million in subsidies. 

The company relented after the CRTC asked it to drop the conditions.

A Northwestel spokesperson declined a request to comment.

Corrections

  • This story originally stated that Northwestel requested the reinstatement of about $116 million in subsidies. However, the subsidies were part of a $116 million fund for local telephone service that the CRTC announced it planned to phase out in 2018. Northwestel asked for the reinstatement of about $6 million in subsidies, which would have previously come from that fund. The number has been corrected.
    Mar 24, 2020 7:24 AM CT

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