Partnership investment brings proper cell service to Athabasca Basin
- EFN Staff | September 27, 2015
SaskTel has announced that the new cellular towers serving the communities of Wollaston Lake and Fond D u Lac First Nation are fully operational and residents can now enjoy the benefits of SaskTel wireless service. The extension of wireless cellular service to these Northern Communities was made possible through a partnership between SaskTel, Athabasca Basin Development and Huawei Canada.
This partnership is based on SaskTel’s Community Participation Model, which encourages communities to raise funds to assist in installing cellular infrastructure where it may not otherwise be economically feasible for SaskTel to do so.
Announced in November 2013, Wollaston Lake and Fond Du Lac First Nation are the first two of a total of four announced communities to receive this service. The partners have also committed to extending wireless service to the communities of Black Lake and Stony Rapids, with an anticipated completion date of year end 2015.
“I am very happy to see this improvement in cellular service for the members of our community,” says Chief Bart Tsannie of Hatchet Lake First Nation, which is located directly next to the community of Wollaston Lake. “One of the most significant challenges for our area is accessibility, and these towers will help improve connectivity to the rest of Saskatchewan. Initiatives like these serve as an important step in building a better future for our residents, and I see this as a significant and vital investment in our community.”
“SaskTel customers experience a level of connectivity that is rare in other sparsely populated parts of the world because of the ongoing commitment SaskTel shows to connecting our rural and northern communities”, said Minister Responsible for SaskTel Jim Reiter. “In addition to this important initiative, with support from the Connecting Canadians Program, SaskTel is also working on extending and increasing broadband internet speeds to an additional 26 Northern communities.”
“We are pleased to be part of this exciting initiative that brings such a real and lasting impact on the Athabasca communities,” says Geoff Gay, CEO of Athabasca Basin Development. ABD had provided $249,000 towards the $6 million project. “Now that two of the towers are operational, the increased connectivity will lead to many benefits for the people and the business climate in the region. I’d like to thank SaskTel and Huawei Canada for their efforts and commitment in getting this vital initiative going, and for giving us the opportunity to join them in this partnership to benefit the Athabasca region.”
“This is a great day for the residents of Wollaston Lake and Fond Du Lac First Nation who can now enjoy high speed connectivity, and we are proud to have supported this initiative,” said Sean Yang, President of Huawei Canada, “SaskTel’s leadership in connecting the rural areas of the province demonstrates a commitment to ensuring northern communities have access to the latest wireless technologies available in the world.” Huawei contributed $385,000 in funding and telecommunications equipment.
“We’ve been looking forward to the towers becoming operational since this was announced, and we are excited that the day has come,” says Darryl McDonald, CEO for Fond Du Lac First Nation, “Up until today, we’ve had little to no cellular coverage in Fond Du Lac, and the impact these towers will have on local business development, safety, and the lives of our residents will be tremendous."