The spectre of competition
NorthwesTel's facing end to long-distance monopoly

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 07/97) - The public and businesses will soon have a say on the prospect of competition in the Northern long-distance telephone market.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will hold regional consultations in Yellowknife on June 24 at the Explorer Hotel and in Whitehorse on June 26.

Anne Grainger, director of corporate communications for NorthwesTel, says in addition to the CRTC's planned regional consultations, NorthwesTel has convinced the federal watchdog to add videoconferencing to the set-up, says Grainger.

As a result, Iqaluit will be hooked up to Yellowknife's session. And Fort Nelson will piggyback on the Whitehorse meeting.

Issues include the advantages and disadvantages of competition, the impact on high-cost and underserved areas, the desirable form of competition, an implementation schedule, appropriate methods of regulation and the rationalizing of long-distance rates for NorthwesTel's eastern and western regions.

NorthwesTel's proposal for long-distance competition in its territory will be available at every NorthwesTel business office and at the CRTC offices in Hull and Vancouver.

NorthwesTel must file a proposal with the commission for long-distance competition in its territory by May 30, 1997 as part of this proceeding.

Interested parties have until June 19 to notify the commission that they're interested in addressing competition issues.

Grainger says NorthwesTel is discussing the broadcast of the meetings on the community cable channel in Yellowknife, but those plans have not been finalized.

The telecommunications company may also videotape the sessions for broadcast at a later date.