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FORT NELSON, B.C. – The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality hopes to have a clear direction for improved connectivity in the next few months.

After several conversations with Northwestel that seemed to be a dead end, the municipality seems hopeful with upcoming meetings with the telecommunications company.

Northwestel refused to apply for the CRTC Broadband Fund to improve connectivity in the rural area earlier this year, despite being eligible.

“Although there has been an extended period of time during communication with Northwestel around the achievement of the Municipality’s objective for expanded and improved broadband service that has been largely unproductive. A recent commitment from senior staff with Northwestel for regular and purposeful discussion has been achieved,’ says the NRRM’s May 10th edition of the Bear Pit.

The NRRM filed an intervention in January regarding the state of telecommunications services in Northwestel’s operating territory. The municipality says its submission, along with those by individuals and organizations, “highlight inadequacies in service levels, affordability and Northwestel’s response to consumer needs.”

Council requested a report from staff detailing the next phase in the Regional Connective Strategy at a March 8th meeting. The information would identify potential local telecommunication partners eligible for provincial and federal funding.

Local providers were ineligible because applicants must have a minimum of three years of experience setting up the proposed broadband infrastructure.

“While other efforts have been outlined to encourage competitive services, and steps have been taken to pursue these steps, there has been difficulty met due to Northwestel owning and controlling the existing broadband infrastructure,” says the report.

The municipality expects to know whether the two parties can come to an agreement within the next few months.

“At this stage, NRRM staff are encouraged with the trajectory of these discussions which have moved from being general to more specific in nature.”

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