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Successful on cellphones
Petition resulted in Fort Providence service

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, March 7, 2013

The arrival of cellphone service in Fort Providence shows that expressing your concerns about issues can lead to action says Deh Cho MLA Michael Nadli.

Northwestel launched its 4G wireless service in Fort Providence on Feb. 20. The service delivers wireless broadband Internet and cellular calling access. This is the first time cellphone service has been available in the hamlet.

Last July Nadli started a petition in the hamlet asking the territorial government to encourage tele-communication companies to establish cellular service in Fort Providence. The petition had 995 signatures when it was tabled in the legislative assembly last October.

"It goes to show that democracy does work," Nadli said.

Northwestel is always listening to customer demand, Eric Clement, an external communications manager for Northwestel, wrote in an e-mail.

"There has been a strong demand in Fort Providence and the rest of the South Slave communities and Northwestel is pleased to be able to modernize our network to accommodate their needs," he said.

One of the reasons Nadli pushed for cellphone service in Fort Providence is because of its location to the Deh Cho Bridge which opened last November and Highway 3. At the time of the petition, Nadli argued that having cellphone service would give travellers more confidence on the road.

The range of the new service, however, will not cover a large section of highway. Blackberries and iPhones have been able to pick up a signal as far away from Fort Providence as the Deh Cho Bridge, although the range is dependant on many factors, Clement said.

Any customer using a high speed packet access (HSPA) enabled phone will have access to the new wireless service in Fort Providence, said Clement. Tourists coming from Alberta or elsewhere will also have access to the service if their device is HSPA enabled. Nadli noted that ironically, his Blackberry can't access the service.

Nadli said it has been different to see residents checking their cellphones around the hamlet. Northwestel had representatives at the Northern store from Feb. 20 to 23 demonstrating cellphones and answering questions about plans.

"The reception in Fort Providence has been fantastic," Clement said.

"Customers are excited to have access to the latest wireless service and are thrilled to be connected to the rest of the country."

Evolved HSPA, also known as HSPA+ or 4G technology, offers data speeds of up to 42 Mbps.

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