SaskTel has earmarked CAD118 million (USD100 million) this year to improve its networks, including CAD23 million to increase bandwidth, CAD27 million to expand its cellular services and CAD12 million to develop its IPTV services, the Saskatchewan-based company announced on Monday. The network expansion forms part of SaskTel’s total CAD325 million capital budget this year, which also includes up to CAD100 million for investments outside its home province. 2007 is ‘year two’ of the telco’s Next Generation Access Infrastructure (NGAI) programme, a five-year, CAD310 million project to increase bandwidth to the province’s ten largest urban centres. In a statement, a company spokesperson said that the NGAI programme aims to extend fibre-to-the-kerb (FTTK) infrastructure to all ten cities, with plans to provide FTTK services to 5,000 households this year. SaskTel is attempting to ramp up its service portfolio in the face of increasing competition from new triple-play market entrants in its service area, in particular cablecos Shaw Communications and Access Communications. SaskTel’s high speed internet service covers 84% of Saskatchewan’s population at present, whilst its CDMA2000 1x-based mobile service is available to 95% of residents.