Hey, Northwestel. What’s So Special About High Level, Alberta?

I was browsing Northwestel’s cable internet plans today and stumbled upon the fact, captured in the screen shot below, that Northwestel provides exceptionally preferential high speed internet pricing to a teensy weensy little town in northern Alberta called High Level.

High Speed Cable Classic in High Level, Alberta

High Speed Cable Classic in High Level, Alberta

In case you can’t read the tiny print in the screen grab, I’ll summarize it this way: Northwestel gives this town of just over 4,000 souls three times the monthly bandwidth for half what Whitehorse pays. Yeah, that’s 60 GB for $50 per month.

Northwestel’s Ultra service in High Level not only gives more data transfer per month, but the company also provides this town with improved data transfer rate, as illustrated in this screen grab:

Northwestel Loves High Level

High Speed Cable Ultra in High Level, Alberta

That’s a 20% improvement over Whitehorse download rates and double our upload rates.

So, what’s up with that, Northwestel? Why the love for this little cowpoke ville and the bird for the rest of us loyal customers, eh?

If you’re going to monopolize a regional industry, at least monopolize equally. Your “Bringing us together” slogan is starting to ring pretty hollow. Perhaps you should adopt something more relevant like, “Divide and conquer.”

3 thoughts on “Hey, Northwestel. What’s So Special About High Level, Alberta?

  1. What’s Northwestel doing in High River anyway. That’s Telus country. This would mean there is competition and that signals better pricing and service.

    When you live in hick country, where the people love the great outdoors, they don’t need sophisticated technology. Hell Northwestel probably gets 10 times the amount of money to support this Yukon area so why spend any of it for better systems which means higher cost and lower profit. Better bonus’ for the top management up there.

    You could always move to the real world or push it through the CRTC. I’ll support you.

  2. Having lived in High Level and worked for a Telco I can probably provide a bit of insight. The price difference probably comes from the cost of provisioning and operating the lines. Trenching fibre to Whitehorse isn’t cheap, plus they probably had to do it through Alaska which involves international business deals and what not, meaning expensive lawyers and all that jazz, and they pass that cost onto the consumer, you.

    Just for perspective, when I was a Systems Admin in High Level, our head office told me that it would cost about $40,000 to provision an E1 line from Peace River to our office or roughly a $135/km, plus $2000/m to operate. An E1 line can serve approximately 32 concurrent dial up connections or 2mbps synchronous download/upload. The fibre servicing Whitehorse is probably more like an OC-96 which has about 2000 times more bandwidth than an E1, probably only slightly more expensive to provision per KM but operational cost is going to be in the 10s if not 100s of thousands of dollars per month.

    Meanwhile the cable to High Level was already provisioned and in place when NWTel bought the existing cable company. Since ADSL has been available in High Level for over a decade Telus does have quite the monopoly there and if NWTel has any chance of cracking it, they can’t provide the more expensive services with less bandwidth than Telus. You can only get so many people to switch on principle because they hate Telus.

    PS. “Dad” High River is about 1150 KM south of High Level.

  3. Interestingly, the comment about trenching fibre to Whitehorse through Alaska is false. Up until late Summer of 2009, Whitehorse had no complete fibre run to the south. Telecommunications on a 320km stretch between Fort Nelson, BC, and near Liard Hot Springs was still being carried over microwave radio until this time. A press release on August 26, 2009 from Northwestel details the completion of fibre on this section of the route (link below). Shortly thereafter, Whitehorse received the same (or similar) cable internet offerings as High Level, with the transfer cap increasing by 3 times. The fact that it was lower beforehand is definitely due to the lack of capacity into the Whitehorse area, which has now been alleviated by the completion of the fibre route fully to Whitehorse.


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