SaskTel facing increasing local competition

23 Nov 2006

Regional telecoms operator SaskTel is facing competition in the local telephony market on two fronts – from Calgary-based Shaw Communications and now Regina-based Access Communications. Following the launch earlier this week of Shaw’s digital phone service in Saskatoon, Access Communications announced plans to launch its own digital lines in Regina in early 2007. The co-operatively owned cable TV and communications provider filed its application to become a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on Tuesday. Jim Deane, president and CEO of Access Communications, said in a press release that his company has spent CAD50 million (USD44 million) on upgrading its infrastructure in order to provide high quality local voice services, and intended to invest the same amount again over the next five years to expand coverage of its ‘alternative primary line’ network. Access’ phone service will be packaged with other products, such as cable TV and internet access. CRTC regulations allow local service competitors to obtain up to 25% market share in an area before an incumbent telco can lower its call rates. SaskTel is also barred from contacting customers for three months after they switch to an alternative service under the regulator’s win-back rules.