Barry Ward works from his home in Weldon, Saskatchewan.  He says without high speed internet he wouldn’t be able to do his job.

“I have telecommuted for 17 years for my employer.  The convenience is I don’t have to drive 300 kilometers every week to my worksite and back.  I can work from home,” says Ward.

That option will become more difficult.  As of December 31, thousands of rural residents will no longer have high speed wireless internet through SaskTel because the federal regulator is taking back the frequency that is being used.  SaskTel spokesperson Darcee MacFarlane says “SaskTel did have to give up spectrum that runs this technology.  So, first and foremost, it was an Industry Canada decision.  But, it is also an aging technology.”

Ward says it will be a huge inconvenience for rural residents.  “That is pretty harsh.  It is a service we lobbied to get for years.  We finally got it and it has been serving us well.  All of a sudden, it is being pulled away from people here.”

SaskTel sent a letter to affected customers advising them of some options including land line DSL and 4-G service.  They also suggest what they call “an excellent alternative.”  The option is to receive high speed internet service through a private company they have partnered with called Xplornet. 

“Of the 8000 customers impacted by this, 7000 can migrate to that service," says MacFarlane.

Ward says, after reviewing that option, it falls short of what he is getting now with SaskTel and it will probably be more expensive. “They are not really the best possible option because they are limited in many ways.  They have usage caps and also the costs are different."

Ward hopes to bypass the inconvenience if he can and go back to using a phone line for his high speed internet.

To ensure uninterrupted service, SaskTel is advising rural customers to contact their dealer before September 30.