Saskatchewan Telecommunications Holding Corporation, operating as SaskTel, is a Canadian crown-owned telecommunications firm based in the province of Saskatchewan. Owned by the provincial government, it provides wireline and wireless communications services, including landline telephone, mobile networks, broadband internet (including copper DSL, fibre to the home, and wireless broadband), IPTV, and security services. Through a subsidiary, SaskTel International, the company has also worked on telecom infrastructure projects in countries such as Argentina and the Bahamas,[1][2] as well as being the lead implementation company for the communication and control systems of the Channel Tunnel between England and France.[3]

Saskatchewan Telecommunications Holding Corporation
FormerlySaskatchewan Government Telephones
Company typeCrown corporation
FoundedJune 12, 1908; 115 years ago (1908-06-12) (as Department of Railways, Telegraphs and Telephones)
June 1, 1947; 76 years ago (1947-06-01) (as Saskatchewan Government Telephones)
Headquarters2121 Saskatchewan Drive
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4P 3Y2
Area served
Key people
Dustin Duncan, Minister Responsible for SaskTel
Charlene Gavel, President and CEO
Grant Kook, Chair of the Board of Directors
RevenueIncrease CA$1.3 billion
OwnerGovernment of Saskatchewan
Number of employees
SaskTel International
  • 803

As of 2022, SaskTel serves around 1.4 million customers, and has an annual revenue of around CA$1.3 billion. [4][5]

History edit

SaskTel was established pursuant to the Telephone Acts as the Department of Railways, Telegraphs and Telephones on June 12, 1908, and through acquisitions of other independent telephone companies (including the Bell Telephone Company of Canada's Saskatchewan operations in 1909) quickly became the dominant government-run telephone operator in Saskatchewan.[6]

On May 9, 1947, premier Tommy Douglas announced that ownership and operational duties for the province's telephone system would be taken over by the newly-established crown corporation Saskatchewan Government Telephones, effective June 1. The change was intended to separate the administrative duties for the telephone system from the government's regulatory duties.[7]

In 1999, SaskTel launched a new Yorkton-based subsidiary known as SecurTek, which deals in security and monitoring services.[8]

In 2002, the company introduced a digital, IPTV-based television service known as Max Entertainment Services, as one of the first such offerings in Canada.[9][10]

In 2009, SaskTel entered into network sharing agreements with Bell Canada and Telus to contribute to a national UMTS/HSPA+ cellular network.[11] In July 2010, SaskTel announced an employee trial launch of its CA$170 million HSPA+ network. The services became publicly available August 16 in metropolitan areas such as North Battleford, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Yorkton, and Weyburn. It launched with a range of BlackBerry and Nokia handsets, and the promise of iPhone carriage in the future.[12][13]

In August 2012, SaskTel announced that it would construct a fibre to the home (FTTH) network branded as Infinet (stylized infiNET), beginning in portions of Regina and Saskatoon, and other cities over the next seven years.[14] In January 2013, SaskTel announced the launch of an LTE network in the Regina and Saskatoon areas, with plans to extend coverage into other major areas of the province by 2014.[15] As of 2013, the company had recorded nearly 616,000 wireless subscribers and over 100,000 Max TV subscribers.[16]

In July 2015, SaskTel acquired six AWS-1 wireless spectrum licenses from Freedom Mobile.[17][18][19]

Bill 40 edit

In 2016, Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party government proposed Bill 40, which allowed for the partial privatization of up to 50% of a provincial crown corporation without seeking public approval.[20] The bill prompted concerns that stakes in SaskTel could be sold to third-parties; the company conducted an independent assessment, factoring in the then-proposed acquisition of former crown telco MTS in Manitoba to Bell Canada. The review found that SaskTel's net income risked "[being] unable to support the level of dividends that have been returned to the province in recent years", citing the possibility of new or enhanced competition among other companies.[21]

Wall promised that any sale of SaskTel shares would be subject to a public referendum; in August 2016, he stated that "if we get an offer and we think it generates a significant amount of money for the province, maybe enough to eliminate our [$4.1 billion] operating debt, if it takes care of the jobs question in Regina, if it provides better coverage, we are at least going to take it to the people and we'll need someone to lead that process."[21][22]

In May 2017, following the passing of Bill 40, it was reported that representatives of BCE Inc., Rogers Communications, and Telus had been lobbying and in discussions with Dustin Duncan, minister responsible for SaskTel. The company stated that the meetings were regarding ongoing wholesale agreements between the companies, and were unrelated to privatization.[22]

In August 2017, Wall announced that he would repeal Bill 40.[23]

2017-2020 edit

SaskTel facility in the village of Cadillac

SaskTel shut down its CDMA network in July 2017.[24] In August 2017, SaskTel announced that it would build FTTH in Rosthern, Saskatchewan (which lies between Saskatoon and Prince Albert). The deployment was part of a pilot program for deploying the service in portions of Saskatchewan's rural regions.[25] It also launched a new suite of smart home and home security products in conjunction with SecurTek and[26]

In April 2018, SaskTel's directory division DirectWest expanded into out-of-home advertising through the purchase of digital billboards.[27]

In May 2018, SaskTel announced a capital investment of $301 million into improvements to its services over the next year, with $61.2 million going towards FTTH deployment for 22,000 additional customers, $26.5 million on improvements to its wireless network, and $109.1 million into customer service.[5]

In August 2018, SaskTel launched MaxTV Stream, a new skinny-bundle IPTV service, utilizing the Ericsson MediaFirst platform running as an app on Android TV boxes. On launch the service was available in all SaskTel FTTH markets, as well as 11 rural communities.[28][29]

On February 21, 2019, SaskTel announced that all customers who have internet access will be migrated to electronic billing, in a process that began March 27.[30]

Unifor strike edit

On October 4, 2019, 5,000 Unifor workers representing seven Saskatchewan crown corporations, including SaskTel and two subsidiaries, went on strike. SaskTel stated that this strike would not affect service for its customers (including online billing and account management via the mySaskTel website), but that first-party SaskTel retail stores will be closed for the duration, and that customers would be unable to activate new home services or transfer them to new residences.[31] After initially picketing outside of the Saskatchewan Party's convention, workers picketed outside of SaskTel's call centre in Regina on October 8—preventing managers from entering.[32]

The same day, Unifor stated its intent to return to a work-to-rule action on October 8 without a new deal. However, SaskTel announced that it would not allow the unionized workers to return, as "unknown and intermittent walkouts" could compromise the quality of service (Unifor stated that it would only provide 24 hours' notice of any future walkout). In solidarity, the remaining employees in the strike (representing crown corporations such as SaskPower) chose to not return to work either.[33][34]

In October 2019, SaskTel and Unifor reached a tentative agreement, pending ratification, and work by employees resumed on October 22, 2019.[35] On November 15, 2019, Unifor announced that the agreement was ratified by SaskTel employees.[36]

2020s edit

On June 24, 2020, SaskTel announced that it will not use Huawei equipment for its 5G services, citing a desire to remain uniform with its roaming partners of Bell and Telus (which both chose Ericsson as supplier).[37] On March 15, 2021, SaskTel announced that it would begin a preliminary deployment of 5G service in Regina and Saskatoon by the end of 2021, with Samsung Electronics serving as the sole supplier of equipment for the network.[38] To support the deployment, Samsung Electronics later announced that it will open a regional office in Regina.[39]

In December 2021, SaskTel announced a new mobile brand known as Lüm Mobile, a self-service prepaid MVNO.[40][41]

On January 17, 2023, SaskTel announced that it will begin charging an additional fee of $1.95 per-month for its email services effective April 2023.[42] However, following criticism of the decision by customers and government officials, Minister Responsible for SaskTel Don Morgan "instructed" the company to backpedal on the plans.[43]

Marketing edit

SaskTel is a sponsorship partner for the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders, and was named as a "founding partner" of the new Mosaic Stadium in Regina upon its opening in 2016.[44] In August 2014, SaskTel acquired the naming rights to Saskatoon's Credit Union Centre, and renamed it SaskTel Centre.[45][46] It is also title sponsor of the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival in Saskatoon.[47]

From 2007 until 2016, SaskTel's marketing prominently featured 3D-animated characters such as Little Red, the Wolf, and Gainer the goldfish (named after the Saskatchewan Roughriders' mascot). In December 2016, the company introduced a new branding campaign, "Today is The Day".[48]

The company re-launched its anti-cyberbullying awareness campaign, I Am Stronger, as Be Kind Online in February 2019.[49]

Networks edit

Radio frequency summary edit

Frequencies used on the SaskTel Network[50]
Frequency range Band number Protocol Class Status Note(s)
850 MHz CLR 5
1900 MHz PCS 2/25 LTE/LTE-A 4G Active / Being deployed
1700 MHz AWS 4/66
850 MHz CLR 5
2600 MHz IMT-E 7
700 MHz Upper SMH Block C1 13
600 MHz DD 71
1700 MHz AWS n66 NR 5G
3500 MHz C-Band n78

References edit

  1. ^ "SaskTel beaches employees in the Bahamas". paNOW. 2017-02-09. Retrieved 2018-05-26.
  2. ^ "Steve Sousa, 39: brings Saskatchewan telecom to the world". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2018-05-26.
  3. ^ "English Channel Tunnel Communications Project | SaskTel International". Archived from the original on 2016-11-03.
  4. ^ "SaskTel Reports Net Income of $104.4 million | SaskTel". Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  5. ^ a b "SaskTel to invest $301M into network and infrastructure". Global News. Retrieved 2018-05-26.
  6. ^ "About Us | SaskTel History | SaskTel".
  7. ^ "Telephones Become Crown Corporation". Regina Leader-Post. May 9, 1947.
  8. ^ "SASKTEL CONTINUES DIVERSIFICATION STRATEGY WITH SECURTEK". Publications Centre. Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  9. ^ "Telus dials up TV service". Calgary Herald via Press Reader. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  10. ^ "What is IPTV? Here's your primer". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  11. ^ "SaskTel agrees to network sharing with Telus, Bell". Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  12. ^ "SaskTel to go live with 3G+ network August 16, 2010". MobileSyrup. 2010-07-06. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  13. ^ "SaskTel date for iPhone service uncertain". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  14. ^ "Sasktel upgrading services through fibre optics". paNOW. Jim Pattison Group. 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  15. ^ "SaskTel launches 4G LTE network". CTV News Regina. 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  16. ^ "SaskTel produces $81.1 million dividend". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  17. ^ "SaskTel makes deal with Wind Mobile to increase bandwidth, speeds". CBC News. 2015-07-31. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  18. ^ Hardy, Ian (31 July 2015). "SaskTel acquires AWS-1 spectrum from WIND Mobile". MobileSyrup. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  19. ^ "Transfer of Spectrum Licences Held by WIND Mobility Corp. (WIND) to Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel)". Industry Canada. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015 – via Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
  20. ^ "Saskatchewan government passes Bill 40 allowing partial sale of Crowns". CBC News. 2017-04-26. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  21. ^ a b Hunter, Adam (2016-08-24). "Start the bidding at $4.1B, Premier Brad Wall indirectly puts pricetag on SaskTel". CBC News. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  22. ^ a b "Bell, Rogers and Telus meeting with SaskTel as privatization bill passes". Regina Leader-Post. 2017-05-03. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  23. ^ "Saskatchewan Party to repeal Crown privatization law". Regina Leader-Post. 2017-10-24. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  24. ^ "SaskTel shutdown of CDMA network to affect 47,000 phone users". The StarPhoenix. 2016-07-06. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  25. ^ "SaskTel high-speed internet reaches Rosthern, offers hope for rural Sask. connectivity". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  26. ^ "SaskTel launches smartHOME service for users looking to automate their home lives". MobileSyrup. 2017-08-21. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  27. ^ "Directwest enters Saskatchewan's digital out of home ad market". Retrieved 2018-05-26.(subscription required)
  28. ^ Noyes, Jayda. "SaskTel introduces maxTV Stream all-in-one service". News Talk 980 CJME. Rawlco Communications. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  29. ^ "SaskTel launches new IPTV platform maxTV Stream". August 22, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  30. ^ "SaskTel moving customers to paperless billing starting next month". Regina Leader-Post. 2019-02-21. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
  31. ^ "SaskTel workers, other Crowns will strike on Friday". CTV News Regina. 3 October 2019. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  32. ^ "'This might be a long one': 5,000 Unifor workers at Sask. Crowns on strike". CBC News. October 4, 2019. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  33. ^ "Striking crown corporation workers will remain off the job in solidarity with SaskTel workers". CTV News Regina. 7 October 2019. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  34. ^ White-Crummey, Arthur; MacPherson, Alex (2019-10-07). "SaskTel says striking workers can't temporarily return to work Tuesday". Regina Leader-Post. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  35. ^ "SaskTel and Unifor Reach Tentative Agreement | SaskTel".
  36. ^ "Unifor Sask Council". Archived from the original on 16 November 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  37. ^ "Saskatchewan shuns Huawei for SaskTel's 5G network". Global News. Retrieved 2020-06-25.
  38. ^ "SaskTel's 5G network will be powered by Samsung, will go live first in Regina and Saskatoon". Regina Leader-Post. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  39. ^ "Samsung establishing regional office in Regina to support 5G rollout". CTV News Regina. 2021-12-01. Retrieved 2021-12-09.
  40. ^ "SaskTel launches new low-cost mobile carrier". CTV News Regina. 2021-12-08. Retrieved 2021-12-09.
  41. ^ "SaskTel launches Lüm Mobile". IT World Canada. 2021-12-08. Retrieved 2021-12-09.
  42. ^ "Get ready to pay a subscription fee for your SaskTel email address". CTV News Saskatoon. 2023-01-18. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  43. ^ "Saskatchewan minister instructs SaskTel to cut upcoming email charges |". Global News. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  44. ^ "Roughriders announce 4 major Mosaic Stadium partners". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  45. ^ "Credit Union Centre to be re-named SaskTel Centre". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  46. ^ "Credit Union Centre becoming SaskTel Centre". Global News. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  47. ^ "Opening day has arrived for 31st annual Saskatchewan Jazz Festival". Global News. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  48. ^ "Fuller: What's with the new SaskTel ad campaign?". The StarPhoenix. 2016-12-09. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  49. ^ "SaskTel relaunches 'I Am Stronger' cyberbullying prevention program as 'Be Kind Online'". Global News. 2019-02-25. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  50. ^ "Supported frequencies on the SaskTel wireless network". Sasktel. Retrieved 2022-06-21.

External links edit