SaskTel
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SaskTel
Saskatchewan Telecommunications Holding Corporation
SaskTel
Formerly
Saskatchewan Government Telephones
Crown corporation
IndustryTelecommunications
FoundedJune 12, 1908 (as Department of Railways, Telegraphs and Telephones)
June 1, 1947 (as Saskatchewan Government Telephones)
Headquarters2121 Saskatchewan Drive
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4P 3Y2
Key people
Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskTel
Doug Burnett, President and CEO
Grant Kook, Chair of the Board of Directors
RevenueDecreaseCAD$ 1.2 billion
Number of employees
4,100
SubsidiariesDirectWest
SaskTel International
SecurTek
Websitewww.sasktel.com

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]

As of 2018, SaskTel serves around 1.4 million customers, and has an annual revenue of around $1.2 billion.[4]

History

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.[5]

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.[6]

In 1999, SaskTel launched a new Yorkton, Saskatchewan-based subsidiary known as SecurTek, which deals in security and monitoring services.[7]

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.[8][9]

In 2009, SaskTel entered into network sharing agreements with Bell Canada and Telus to contribute to a national UMTS/HSPA+ cellular network.[10] In July 2010, SaskTel announced an employee trial launch of its $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.[11][12]

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.[13] 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.[14] As of 2013, the company had recorded nearly 616,000 wireless subscribers and over 100,000 Max TV subscribers.[15]

In July 2015, SaskTel acquired six AWS-1 wireless spectrum licenses from Freedom Mobile.[16][17][18]

Bill 40

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.[19] 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.[20]

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."[20][21]

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.[21]

In August 2017, Wall announced that he would repeal Bill 40.[22]

Further developments

SaskTel facility in the village of Cadillac

SaskTel shut down its CDMA network in July 2017.[23] 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.[24] It also launched a new suite of smart home and home security products in conjunction with SecurTek and Alarm.com.[25]

In April 2018, SaskTel's directory division DirectWest expanded into out-of-home advertising through the purchase of digital billboards.[26]

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.[4]

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.[27][28]

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.[29]

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).[30]

Unifor strike

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 15th, 2019, Unifor announced that the agreement was ratified by SaskTel employees.[36]

Marketing

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.[37] In August 2014, SaskTel acquired the naming rights to Saskatoon's Credit Union Centre, and renamed it SaskTel Centre.[38][39] It is also title sponsor of the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival in Saskatoon.[40]

From 2007 until 2016, SaskTel's marketing prominently featured 3D-animated characters based on the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood", including characters such as Red, the Wolf, and Gainer the goldfish. In December 2016, the company introduced a new branding campaign, "Today is The Day".[41]

The company re-launched its anti-cyberbullying awareness campaign, I Am Stronger, as Be Kind Online in February 2019.[42]

References

  1. ^ "SaskTel beaches employees in the Bahamas". paNOW. 2017-02-09. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Steve Sousa, 39: brings Saskatchewan telecom to the world". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved .
  3. ^ https://sasktelinternational.com/company/experience/english-channel-tunnel-communications-project
  4. ^ a b "SaskTel to invest $301M into network and infrastructure". Global News. Retrieved .
  5. ^ https://www.sasktel.com/about-us/company-info/vision-mission-and-values/history-site/history#beforethe1920
  6. ^ "Telephones Become Crown Corporation". Regina Leader-Post. May 9, 1947.
  7. ^ "SASKTEL CONTINUES DIVERSIFICATION STRATEGY WITH SECURTEK". Publications Centre. Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Telus dials up TV service". Calgary Herald via Press Reader. Retrieved .
  9. ^ "What is IPTV? Here's your primer". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2016.
  10. ^ "SaskTel agrees to network sharing with Telus, Bell". Cartt.ca. Retrieved .
  11. ^ "SaskTel to go live with 3G+ network August 16, 2010". MobileSyrup. 2010-07-06. Retrieved .
  12. ^ "SaskTel date for iPhone service uncertain". CBC News. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "Sasktel upgrading services through fibre optics". paNOW. Jim Pattison Group. 2012-08-10. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "SaskTel launches 4G LTE network". CTV News Regina. 2013-01-30. Retrieved .
  15. ^ "SaskTel produces $81.1 million dividend". CBC News. Retrieved .
  16. ^ "SaskTel says new deal will improve LTE network". CBC News. Retrieved .
  17. ^ Hardy, Ian (31 July 2015). "SaskTel acquires AWS-1 spectrum from WIND Mobile". MobileSyrup. Retrieved 2015.
  18. ^ "Transfer of Spectrum Licences Held by WIND Mobility Corp. (WIND) to Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel)". Spectrum Management and Telecommunications. Industry Canada. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  19. ^ "Opposition leader calls privatization bill an "incredible betrayal"". CBC News. Retrieved .
  20. ^ a b "Start the bidding at $4.1B, Premier Brad Wall indirectly puts pricetag on SaskTel". CBC News. Retrieved .
  21. ^ a b "Bell, Rogers and Telus meeting with SaskTel as privatization bill passes". Regina Leader-Post. 2017-05-03. Retrieved .
  22. ^ "Saskatchewan Party to repeal Crown privatization law". Regina Leader-Post. 2017-10-24. Retrieved .
  23. ^ "SaskTel shutdown of CDMA network to affect 47,000 phone users". Saskatoon StarPhoenix. 2016-07-06. Retrieved .
  24. ^ "SaskTel high-speed internet reaches Rosthern, offers hope for rural Sask. connectivity". CBC News. Retrieved .
  25. ^ "SaskTel launches smartHOME service for users looking to automate their home lives". MobileSyrup. 2017-08-21. Retrieved .
  26. ^ "Directwest enters Saskatchewan's digital out of home ad market". Cartt.ca. Retrieved .(subscription required)
  27. ^ Noyes, Jayda. "SaskTel introduces maxTV Stream all-in-one service". 980 CJME. Rawlco Communications. Retrieved .
  28. ^ "SaskTel launches new IPTV platform maxTV Stream". Cartt.ca. August 22, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  29. ^ February 21, Regina Leader-Post Updated; 2019 (2019-02-21). "SaskTel moving customers to paperless billing starting next month". Retrieved .CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  30. ^ "Saskatchewan shuns Huawei for SaskTel's 5G network". Global News. Retrieved .
  31. ^ "SaskTel workers, other Crowns will strike on Friday". CTV ews. Retrieved .
  32. ^ "'This might be a long one': 5,000 Unifor workers at Sask. Crowns on strike". CBC News. October 4, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  33. ^ "Striking crown corporation workers will remain off the job in solidarity with SaskTel workers". CTV News. Retrieved .
  34. ^ White-Crummey, Arthur; MacPherson, Alex (2019-10-07). "SaskTel says striking workers can't temporarily return to work Tuesday". Regina Leader-Post. Retrieved .
  35. ^ https://www.sasktel.com/about-us/news/2019/sasktel-unifor-reach-tentative-agreement
  36. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20191116203419/https://www.uniforsaskcouncil.ca/
  37. ^ "Roughriders announce 4 major Mosaic Stadium partners". CBC News. Retrieved .
  38. ^ "Credit Union Centre to be re-named SaskTel Centre". CBC News. Retrieved .
  39. ^ "Credit Union Centre becoming SaskTel Centre". Global News. Retrieved .
  40. ^ "Opening day has arrived for 31st annual Saskatchewan Jazz Festival". Global News. Retrieved .
  41. ^ "Fuller: What's with the new SaskTel ad campaign?". Saskatoon StarPhoenix. 2016-12-09. Retrieved .
  42. ^ "SaskTel relaunches 'I Am Stronger' cyberbullying prevention program as 'Be Kind Online'". globalnews.ca. 2019-02-25. Retrieved .

External links


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SaskTel
 



 



 
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