CRTC looking into heavy number of Northwestel outages

The northern-based carrier is having issues with keeping its service online

Northwestel, which is a widespread cellular and internet service provider in Northern Canada, is being asked by the CRTC to provide more detail about a string of major service outages over the past year.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is inquiring into what caused the carrier’s network to often drop internet, cellphone and long-distance calling service since July 2018, reports CBC News.

Northwestel has written to the CRTC and explained that it’s had at least 40 drops since July 2018 that have lasted more than four hours, but it only considers five of the outages “major,” according to CBC News.

It’s categorizing major outages as drops in service that affected over 1,000 people.

According to the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, the city has lost close to $10 million due to the outages, reports CBC News.

In a letter sent from Northwestel to the CRTC the company alleged that two of its outages were acts of vandalism, another couple of outages were resalts from a line being cut, but a majority of the paper was redacted according to CBC’s report.

Some of the outages were because of power failures, and Northwestel is aiming to buy more generators to keep things running in case of an outage.

Earlier this summer, Northwestel reached a settlement with the CRTC to pay $5 million CAD to expand its network infrastructure. This includes bringing fibre optic connections to First Nation offices, schools health centres and government offices in Yukon, Northwest Territories and northern British Columbia. The deal also plans to expand cellphone coverage on major roads and highways in the territories.

CBC News is also reporting that Northwestel is planning to spend $15 million to run fibre optic cables from Dawson City, Yukon to Inuvik, North West Territories. This will close what is known as the ‘Canada North Fibre Loop’ which should help reduce outages.

Source: CBC News, (1)