North

Northwestel applying for temporary relief of internet overage fees

Northwestel is proposing waiving internet use overage charges for March and April for terrestrially-served customer. It has also proposed doubling internet usage caps for satellite-served communities.

Ice Wireless removes data speed restrictions

Northwestel is proposing waiving internet use overage charges for March and April for terrestrially-served customers. It has also proposed doubling internet usage caps for satellite-served communities. (CBC)

Northwestel is proposing waiving internet use overage charges for March and April for customers in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and northern Alberta and British Columbia. 

In a Monday press release, Northwestel announced it has submitted an urgent application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for temporary relief on residential internet use for terrestrially-served communities — most communities in the regions.

It says this is part of its response to the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19. 

Northwestel has already begun increasing capacity to accommodate the expected usage increase, according to the release. 

In the remaining satellite-served communities, Northwestel says it is not technologically possible to quickly increase capacity, but it has proposed temporarily doubling internet usage caps. Affected communities include Old Crow in Yukon, Fort Ware in British Columbia, Colville Lake, Gamètì, Łutsël K'é, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Sambaa K'e, Ulukhaktok, and Wekweètì in the Northwest Territories, and Arviat, Cambridge Bay, and Rankin Inlet in Nunavut.

Northwestel says it has also proposed creating a new unlimited option in cable communities in May — when the proposed waiver of internet overage fees will expire. 

As the CRTC has acknowledged that Northwestel's residential DSL internet rates are significantly below its costs, Northwestel says it has also asked CRTC to freeze the subsidy for telecommunications in northern high-cost serving areas at 2019 levels to ensure adequate funding in "this critical period." 

Northwestel notes that because its terrestrial internet packages and rates are regulated, the proposed changes will only take effect with CRTC approval.

Ice Wireless removes data speed restrictions 

Iristel and Ice Wireless have also removed data speed restrictions amid COVID-19 concerns. Ice Wireless is an LTE-A carrier with operation in the territories and northern Quebec. 

In a Monday press release, Iristel, which owns Ice Wireless, says the suspension will be effective immediately. 

It notes while most unlimited wireless internet plans already have unlimited monthly data, industry practice is that download speeds are throttled back when customers reach 10 GB. It says that throttling with be suspended until further notice.

"With the number of COVID-19 reported cases doubling over the past week, we support government requests to increase self-isolation and social distancing in order to 'flatten the growth curve' of [COVID-19]," Samer Bishay, president and CEO of Iristel and Ice Wireless is quoted as saying. 

As of Monday, there were no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Yukon, Northwest Territories or Nunavut.

now