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SaskTel announces $199M for 2011 Saskatchewan network investment and fiber to the premises program


April 5, 2011
By Alyssa Dalton

April 5, 2011

SaskTel has announced it will invest $199 million in its Saskatchewan
network this year and approximately $670 million in a seven-year Next
Generation Broadband Access Program (2011 – 2017). According to the
government, the program will deploy Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) and
upgrade the broadband network in the nine largest urban centres in the
province – Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Estevan, Swift
Current, Yorkton, North Battleford and Prince Albert.

“Saskatchewan continues to be a growing and dynamic place," said Bill Boyd, the minister responsible for SaskTel. “The deployment of FTTP will create the bandwidth capacity to allow SaskTel to deploy exciting new next generation technologies to better serve the people of Saskatchewan.”

Residential and business customers in communities across the province can expect improved and expanded SaskTel services as a result of this latest major capital investment, said SaskTel. “The investment will ensure SaskTel customers in Saskatchewan continue to receive some of the best wireless, Max, Internet, data and future IP-based services in the world.”

Highlights of the 2011 investment program include:

• SaskTel will invest $16 million in its Next Generation Broadband Access Program. This includes DSL sustainment and FTTP deployment which targets to have 100 percent of homes in the nine major centres in the province passed by 2017. SaskTel will begin servicing residences in Regina and Saskatoon with FTTP technology this year.

• Fiber to the Premises will offer speeds that “far exceed” those of SaskTel’s current network and will allow SaskTel to deploy speeds up to 200 Mbps initially, with the capacity to significantly increase speeds over time. Extending Fiber to the Premises will also support more HD capable set top boxes, the ability to combine faster Internet speeds with Max and allow SaskTel to help improve the TV watching experience.

• SaskTel will invest $52 million to continue construction of its 4G wireless network. The 4G network provides increased bandwidth with download speeds approximately four times faster than existing speeds (up to 21 megabits per second). The 4G wireless network delivers “increased bandwidth, greater international roaming and a wider selection of wireless devices.”

• SaskTel will invest $27 million to continue the Rural Infrastructure Program: $15 million will be invested as part of the overall initiative to upgrade more than 220 High Speed Internet Basic communities from 1.5 Mbps to 5 Mbps by the end of 2011; $12 million will be invested to expand and improve its existing wireless network, including the addition of new digital cellular sites across the province. This is the final year of a three-year program to build 55 new cellular towers in the province.

• Evolving SaskTel’s Max Entertainment Services – Max is a full-featured digital television service with more than 190 digital TV channels, 47 HD channels, Digital TV Recorder, High Speed Internet, Video-on-Demand, Pay-Per-View and Local on Demand. SaskTel will invest approximately $7 million in Max this year to expand the service to new communities, meet customer demand and make ongoing enhancements. The project will expand Max Entertainment Services and offer higher Internet speeds to eight more communities in 2011 (Canora, Esterhazy, Kamsack, Kindersley, Meadow Lake, Nipawin, Rosetown and Tisdale).

• Other network expenditures -include: high speed Internet expansion for First Nations – $9 million; basic network growth and enhancements – $54 million; voice over Internet protocol – $11 million; other network expenditures – $23 million.

“Since the beginning of 2008, we’ve invested approximately $800 million in our network,” said Ron Styles, SaskTel president and CEO. “Our ongoing network investment allows us to be the best at connecting people to their world by providing the best customer experience through our superior networks, exceptional service, advanced solutions and applications.”