Undertaking entered into pursuant to section 72.006 of the Telecommunications Act

Undertaking: Northwestel Inc.

File No.: 8661-N1-201800863

Monetary value of undertaking: $5,000,000

Effective date of undertaking: 25 March 2019

Acts and omissions covered by the undertaking and provisions at issue:

Pursuant to section 72.006 of the Telecommunications Act (S.C. 1993, c. 38) (the Act), Northwestel Inc. (Northwestel) has voluntarily entered into an undertaking with respect to the non-compliance identified in its 8 February 2018 Part 1 application (the Application). 

Section 25(1) of the Act stipulates that no Canadian carrier shall provide a telecommunications service except in accordance with a tariff filed with and approved by the Commission. In the Application, Northwestel identified nine instances over a period of seven years where rates were charged for services other than in accordance with approved tariffs for various periods of time, and requested ratification of the charging of those rates. In Telecom Decision 2018-465, the Commission denied the Application and determined that the non-compliance represented a systemic disregard for the company’s regulatory obligations and the Commission’s authority. 

Commission staff recognizes that Northwestel self-identified the non-compliance. It also recognizes Northwestel’s efforts to implement process changes and compliance safeguards to ensure against compliance errors going forward. As a result, Commission staff has determined that the imposition of a monetary payment would be unlikely to provide any incremental benefit to the promotion of compliance. 

That said, Northwestel’s breach of its regulatory obligations is serious. Commission staff (in its role as the designated person under section 72.004 of the Act) and Northwestel have agreed that Northwestel will use this opportunity to invest funds in the building or upgrading of network infrastructure in its operating territory where it otherwise had no plans to do so. To that end, Northwestel has undertaken to invest a total of $5,000,000 in the following two categories of projects:

  1. $3,000,000 will be invested in the building of fibre to First Nations Offices, schools, health centres, and territorial and municipal government offices in Yukon, Northwest Territories, and northern British Columbia. Eligible customers may apply to Northwestel for funding.
  2. $2,000,000 will be invested in the expansion of cell phone service along unserved highways and major roadways in Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Locations will be determined following consultation with territorial governments.

Northwestel has committed to completing construction of the projects within three years. This undertaking fully and completely resolves all outstanding issues with respect to the non-compliance identified in the Application. 

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