When Ice Wireless launched in Iqaluit a few years ago, several people waited hours in line to sign up for the territory’s first mobile network. Just a few months later, Bell launched a 4G network in the town, which is a move most likely caused by pressure from Ice Wireless.
Ice Wireless is an increasingly competitive telecommunications company in the northern market. Better mobile and broadband carriers have been slowly moving up to the Canadian North, with several carriers already offering 4G mobile service.
Providers in the north face a wide range of challenges, in terms of both delivery and marketing. Getting all the infrastructure built in the north is a challenge in and of itself.
In the north, one of the other challenges being faced on a daily basis is regulation. Bishay, who owns Toronto-based VoIP provider Iristel, was among one of many carriers to travel to Iqaluit in late August to argue with the CRTC. CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais was in town for a series of meetings to debate whether broadband should be a basic service, which in the town only included phone lines.
Aside from all the geographic challenges, Bishay blames the poor service on the previous lack of competition. Northwestel chief executive Paul Flaherty said that these northern territories should be treated separately since subsidized services can weaken the competition in these communities.
Checkout the Financial Posts in-depth coverage of the great digital divide in Canada.