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SaskTel investing 220 Million in its network


June 22, 2009
By Anthony Capkun

June 22, 2009

SaskTel will invest $220 million in its Saskatchewan network in 2009, which includes $42.4 million from the Government of Saskatchewan for Year One of a three-year Rural Infrastructure Program. 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.

“With this major network investment, SaskTel is continuing its
commitment to Saskatchewan,” said Ken Cheveldayoff, Crown corporations
minister. “As SaskTel moves into its second century, residential and
business customers can look forward to improved and expanded service in
2009 and beyond.”

Highlights of this year’s investment program include:

• In 2009, SaskTel will invest $48.5 million to begin construction of a
new $172-million universal mobile telecommunications system
(UMTS)/high-speed packet access (HSPA) wireless network. The first
phase of the new network build—which will provide coverage in the major
Saskatchewan centres—is expected to be available early 2010. Full
coverage, similar to today’s digital cellular coverage, is anticipated
to be available by the end of 2010.

• SaskTel will be shutting down its analogue network mid-2010.

• In 2009, SaskTel will begin the Rural Infrastructure Program to
deliver 100% high-speed Internet coverage and improved wireless
coverage across the province within three years.

• As part of this program, SaskTel will provide digital cellular service to 55 locations by the end of 2011.

• In 2009, SaskTel will invest $37.6 million to expand and improve its
existing wireless network, including the addition of 12 out of the 55
new digital cellular sites across the province.

• This year, SaskTel will invest $43 million to expand rural broadband.
This includes upgrading the rural backbone infrastructure to provide an
enhanced transport network that will deliver basic high-speed Internet
(5 Mpbs) to approximately 90 out of the 187 communities by the end of
2009.

• Under the Rural Infrastructure Program, SaskTel has recently
concluded an agreement with Barrett Xplore Inc., which operates
Xplornet Internet Services. The agreement calls on Barrett Xplore to
deliver SaskTel satellite high-speed Internet powered by Xplornet to
rural areas that do not have access to SaskTel’s other high-speed
Internet services.

• As part of the Rural Infrastructure Program, SaskTel is seeking
private sector partners to make proposals to provide high-speed
Internet to 13 towns out of the 66 new towns that are becoming part of
CommunityNet, as well as other unserved areas of the province. SaskTel
is exploring partnership options that would allow private sector
companies to provide residential high-speed Internet in the community
in return for a subsidy.

• Initiated in 2006, Next Generation Access Infrastructure (NGAI) is a
five-year, $310-million program to offer increased bandwidth by
providing fiber optic cable closer to customer homes and businesses. In
2009, the third year of the NGAI program, SaskTel will invest
approximately $11.9 million to continue to increase the bandwidth of
SaskTel’s access network.

• Basic network growth and enhancements amount to about $61.4 million.

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