Ice Wireless – an independent far-north Canadian cellco – and its associate Iristel – a Canadian competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) – have entered into a ‘multi-million’ dollar contract with China’s Huawei Technologies to roll out a 3G cellular network for rural and remote communities in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut by the end of 2013. Presently, residents of the three territories of Northern Canada have the lowest availability and highest costs for telecommunications services in the country. According to a recent report by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), only 66% of the North has access to wireless internet and just 48% has access to 3G cellular services – compared to 99% in the rest of the country. The network upgrade and expansion by Ice Wireless-Iristel, using Huawei networking equipment, will improve 3G and wireless broadband services for 60,659 people across the three territories, and provide access to services that were previously unavailable to local residents.
Ice Wireless-Iristel will also provide Northern residents with fixed line services, including home telephony through Iristel’s Canada-wide voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) CLEC service, enabling local and long-distance calling. ‘We are excited to be part of the government’s mission to bridge the digital divide for the Northwest Territories,’ said Samer Bishay, CEO of both Ice Wireless and Iristel, adding, ‘We aim to ensure rural and remote households, businesses and community organisations in the North have access to prices and services that are fast, affordable, and every bit as good as those enjoyed by the rest of Canada, if not better.’ Established in 2005, Ice Wireless currently provides voice, video and data services, including GSM cellular, to Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River, Aklavik, Behchoko and Whitehorse, and operates a network covering 70% of Northwest Territories and 78% of Yukon.