SaskTel Dead Zone Leaves St. Victor With Painfully Slow Internet and Poor Cell Service


The community in St. Victor, Saskatchewan is feeling disconnected from the digital world and ignored by SaskTel, the primary provider that serves the area.

St. Victor, which is about 200 kilometers southwest of Regina, has poor cell service and no wireless high-speed internet. The village is sitting at the bottom of a valley, so connections to the nearest cell towers are unreliable. Rae Crothers, who needs a web connection to work from her home in St. Victor, said:

“It’s the 21st century in a first-world country and I can’t get internet? We are a community that’s 50 kilometers from the U.S. border [and] between the Trans-Canada [Highway]. We’re not in the middle of nowhere.”

Several people in the village have been using cell phone boosters in order to amplify the weak signal. However, these devices can cost several hundred dollars and don’t always provide a reliable solution. Wendy Olynyk, who has tried using cell phone boosters, said:

“As long as your phone is right beside the booster, on a good day you might have four bars. If you go a little bit away from it, you lose it.”

Zachary Flynn, who subscribes to a satellite internet service, is frustrated with the slow transmission speeds and connection interruptions. Flynn said:

“It was costing me $95 a month to have internet that worked intermittently. You might be able to get to a web page once in a blue moon.”

Even though the village of St. Victor is home to about 25 people, Crothers believes that much of the surrounding area is also affected. Crothers has raised the service issue with SaskTel, but was told not to expect any improvements for at least 10 years.

“In a written statement, SaskTel acknowledged St. Victor is in a limited coverage zone. According to SaskTel, service to rural communities is very expensive and Saskatchewan has the fewest customers per square kilometre of any province. Terrain can also affect the range and quality of wireless services, the company said. SaskTel also pointed out that its wireless network reaches more than 98 per cent of the province’s population.”

SaskTel says it has no current plans to expand or enhance wireless service in the St. Victor area.

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  • SV650

    I’m sure we can all name community areas where cellular service is non-existent, many larger that St. Victor. Availability of particular services is usually a major consideration in searching for a home. There are instances of people wanting to move in both directions some want wireless, others don’t. There was a vocal group in New Denver, BC wanting to prevent the installation of a cell tower in their community area – they wished to keep it ‘pristine’ and a vacation get-away from wireless services.

  • Tim

    Sasktel is probably the best provider in the country in terms of subsidizing service areas that would not be viewed as economically viable by the big 3. This stems from their crown corp mandate to operate as a utility for public benefit. If this tiny place doesn’t make the Sasktel litmus test for service improvements, it probably means that it literally is way too small. If it were to cost them a million dollars to provide service that’s an investment just shy of $50,000 per person. I’m all for connecting as many people as possible, but sometimes the economics are just too far removed from reality to make it work.

    That said, I’ve worked in areas where we used boosters to attain HSPA service and it works if you do it right. It sounds like they’re on the fringe, in which case there’s likely a far cheaper alternative than Sasktel investing in additional infrastructure (ie. Boosters and wifi relays.)

  • Ryan Laker

    “St Victor is home to about 25 people” pretty much answers why no one has gone out of their way to provide coverage.

  • thomasein

    Sorry, but you are in the middle of nowhere.

  • johnnygoodface

    My Dad is blessed (read:stuck) with a satellite connection too cause there’s not high speed internet where he lives in the country. Latency is about 300-600ms… 5Mb/s is a joke in today’s word. And so is 98% if you’re in the 2% left out! 100% is required, no less! They have enough money to lower their profit zone in those areas!