SaskTel doubles investment to bring advanced broadband for rural communities

SaskTel will invest an additional $50 million in its Rural Fibre Initiative, bringing its total investment to $100 million. This additional investment in fibre will bring fibre optic broadband to 24 more rural Saskatchewan communities than previously planned by the end of 2023.

Over 30,000 more rural residents and businesses will gain access to advanced fibre optic broadband infrastructure allowing them to fully utilize the latest digital tools and technologies to connect, learn, and pursue business opportunities.

“Expanding access to leading-edge broadband technology is critical in preparing Saskatchewan for its future,” said Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskTel. “As so many of us have adapted to online learning and new ways of working, we have become ever more dependent on high speed internet services. This major investment by SaskTel will help set the stage for Saskatchewan’s future and ensure that our province is ready for the post-COVID world with the most advanced communications infrastructure available.”

Originally announced this past December, the Rural Fibre Initiative is a multi-phase program that will bring SaskTel infiNET™ service to over 40 rural Saskatchewan communities by the end of 2023.

“As Saskatchewan’s homegrown communications leader, we continue to heavily invest in our networks so that we can connect our customers to the cutting-edge technologies they need to compete and succeed in the modern world.” said Doug Burnett, SaskTel President and CEO. “Whether it’s streaming 4K video content, playing the latest online game, or simply enjoying a video call with family and friends, infiNET service will ensure our customers will be able to connect to their world in real-time.”

To date, SaskTel has finalized the communities to be connected in the first three phases of the Rural Fibre Initiative, these include:

Phase 1 – Balgonie, Biggar, Langham and Pilot Butte. Construction has begun in all four communities, and SaskTel anticipates that the majority of homes and businesses will be fibre ready by the end of March 2022.

Phase 2 – Kindersley, Meadow Lake, and Rosetown. Construction will begin in all three communities later this year.

Phase 3 – Canora, Carlyle, Esterhazy, Fort Qu’Appelle, Hudson Bay, Indian Head, Kamsack, La Ronge, Lumsden, Maple Creek, Moosomin, Shaunavon, Watrous, and Wynyard. SaskTel plans to begin construction in these communities in 2022.

Phase 4 – SaskTel will spend $50 million to bring fibre to 24 additional communities. A formal announcement will be made when the remaining communities to be included in this phase are finalized.

“I am very pleased to hear this great news and we are very excited for the fibre optics network to be available to residents of Kindersley. It will greatly benefit our community in so many ways including education tools and business in general,” said Rod Perkins, Mayor of Kindersley.

Upon completion of the Rural Fibre Initiative, SaskTel estimates that approximately 75% of the population of the province will have access to its fibre optic broadband network. In an effort to further increase the availability of fibre optic broadband service, SaskTel will soon begin investigating partnership opportunities that would enable it to connect more communities beyond those included in the Rural Fibre Initiative.

SaskTel will conduct a “Pilot Program” by issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to determine if any alternate Internet service provider (ISP) or contractor may be able to deliver fibre broadband services in any communities not included in SaskTel’s current fibre build or its Rural Fibre Initiative. The details of the RFI and the requirements will be posted on SaskTenders.

Added Morgan, “Our government understands how important broadband infrastructure is to the overall success of the province and we fully support the work SaskTel is doing to bring more advanced broadband technologies to the people of Saskatchewan.”