CRTC Rules Northwestel Must Reduce Rates

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Northwestel, the largest telecom provider in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon is being ordered by the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) to reduce its rates for residential Internet service by 10 to 30 percent. In addition, the company cannot raise its rates again until 2017 at the earliest, at which point any changes must be made with the permission of the Commission.

The CRTC began investigating Northwestel’s rates in 2013, concerned that its prices approached three to four times those in Southern Canada.

“Although we recognize the exceptional situation that exists in Northwestel’s territory, we must not let these challenges hinder the development and affordability of telecommunications services in the North,” CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a statement. “Access to reasonably priced Internet services plays an essential role in the North’s economic and social development. With this decision, we are reducing the gap between what consumers pay for Internet services in the northern and southern parts of Canada.”

Northwestel can no longer charge customers an additional fee for only using its Internet services without having a telephone bundle. Additionally, the company must reduce the price it charges customers who go over their monthly data plan by at least $0.05 per gigabyte. Northwestel currently charges $2-3 per gigabyte for overages.

These changes must be in effect by February 2016, but customers should begin seeing reductions in their bills by May 4, 2015.