Hay River residents will soon have another option when considering their telephone services.
Ice Wireless, a telephone and Internet company established in 2005 in Inuvik, provides service to various remote communities in the NWT. In the next few months, it will begin rolling out its VoIP – voice over IP, which stands for Internet Protocol – service to residents.
Such a service is gaining popularity across Canada. According to a March article in The Globe and Mail, there were an estimated 161,000 VoIP phone lines in Canada in 2009, based on the latest estimate from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Ice Wireless vice-president Cameron Zubko said more Northern competition means consumers will invariably pay less in the long run.
“With more companies competing, you’ll see the price of connectivity go way down,” he said. “There are complaints within the industry that Northwestel’s prices are too high. We believe there should be more options.”
Ice Wireless plans on promoting a converter that will allow residents to easily switch over to VoIP, and keep their existing numbers due to service portability.
Cell-phone users can look forward to next summer, when the company plans on offering 3G services in Hay River.
Zubko said the company is still waiting to see if number portability (the ability to reassign a number to another carrier) would be available.
The company conducted successful trials for a new satellite-based telephone and Internet service in Inuvik in early November, and will be offering 3G services there as of next summer, as well.
“We want to open this market up as much as possible,” Zubko said. “We made this investment in the North and will continue to invest as a direct result of the CRTC’s pressure on Northwestel. As they are forced to reduce pricing, bandwidth rates will go down and you’ll see more investment in the North from companies like Ice Wireless.”
Recently, the CRTC announced Northwestel had to revise its rate schedule before the New Year.
Earlier in the year, Ice Wireless struck a partnership with Iristel, one of the country’s largest VoIP service providers.
by Myles Dolphin