A northern-based cell phone company has made a proposal to Town Council to bring their services into Hay River.
During last Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Cameron Zubko, vice-president of Ice Wireless, addressed Council with a plan to incorporate Hay River into their Northern coverage.
The company was created in 2005 by Zubko and his father, Tom, and is based out of Inuvik.
Zubko discussed the rarity of cell phone companies in Canada, and the benefits of bringing Ice Wireless into the community.
“We offer a full range of cell services,” he said.
The company runs on a contract-free system, where the client purchases one of their cell phones, and chooses from one of two plans – the basic $25 per month plan or the family and friends plan, which is $25 per plan member.
Additional features can then be added to the plan, including unlimited text messaging and call forward, hold and waiting, with prices ranging from $5 to $7 for each option.
Long distance calls with Ice Wireless run at 35 cents a minute in both Canada and the United States.
Zubko noted during his presentation when asked, that Blackberries and other smart phones would not work to their full potential with Ice Wireless, as there is no current data plan with the company.
This is something they are looking into for the future, he said.
The cell phones up for purchase from Ice Wireless are also unlocked, meaning if the client moves down south,
the phone can be transferred to a new company, such as Bell or Rogers.
Southern wireless companies lock their cell phones so that it can only be used with that specific company explained Zubko.
The company is already established in Yellowknife, Behchoko and Inuvik, and became a roaming partner with Rogers and Fido in 2008.
“When a Rogers or Fido phone comes up here, it jumps on our networks,” said Zubko.
Currently, when a Rogers or Fido phone is in Hay River, the user will not get reception, as Bell is the only carrier in Town.
According to Zubko, Ice Wireless already has an antenna set up on top of the high rise, it is just a matter of getting the base equipment ready.
But to do so, the company is looking at a different business proposal than what is already in place in their other service areas.
They are asking the Town to purchase $165,000 worth of antennas, amplifiers and routers, to set up a municipal-owned cell service company.
Ice Wireless would be the operator, but the service would be 100 per cent owned by the Town of Hay River said Zubko.
He added that Fort McPherson is interested in a similar model as being proposed to Hay River, but Yellowknife, Behchoko and Inuvik are all fully owned and operated by Ice Wireless.
“This is a new model,” said Zubko.
“This is one of the first times we are proposing it.”
Council was receptive to their presentations, and few questions were asked at the end of their 20-minute proposal.
No one from Town Council was available for comment at the time of publication.