SuperNet provider Axia cannot guarantee continued service

Alberta’s health, schools, libraries, municipal governments at risk from delayed bidding

Bidding negotiations between Service Alberta and Axia, the company contracted to run the province’s SuperNet service have come to a head.

Rumours of a potential risk of continuity of services by July 1 were confirmed by Axia through a press release Thursday morning.

SuperNet provides essential Internet services to a wide range of institutions in Alberta, including health services, municipal services, education services and libraries across the province.

The release from Axia states the reason as coming from a “contract awarding delay by Service Alberta.”

The issue appears to be a result of negotiations between the province, Axia and Bell Canada, the other company with potential to run the SuperNet service. Axia confirms the concern by stating the province is considering Bell Canada as the service provider.

“Our provincial government has repeatedly delayed a bidding process for control of Axia’s Alberta SuperNet that could result in the control of this vital and innovative information link passing out of the control of an Alberta company focused on serving rural and small town Albertans to Bell Canada,” states the release.

“In my view, the Government of Alberta has to date not appropriately weighed the importance of digital connectivity in this province as it is vital to the interests of Albertans and our way of life,” stated Art Price, chairman and CEO of Axia in the release.

The service freeze could affect 250,000 Albertans.

“The success of Axia’s business model, and made in Alberta innovation, is proof that open access fibre infrastructure is a better approach than the monopolistic telco practices in other Canadian provinces,” said Price.

Ponoka News is working to receive a response from Service Alberta and Bell Canada, but for now, Axia invites users and residents to take action at by visiting the www.connectalberta.ca website or to contact Service Alberta or an MLA. Cyr is concerned of a potential disruption of service.

“This is absolutely unacceptable, millions of Albertans depend on this service,” he states in the letter.

Cyr requested an update on the situation but it isn’t known if one was received.

There is some concern coming on the political side of the equation. Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Scott Cyr wrote a letter June 21 to the Minister of Service Alberta, Brian Malkinson, about the issue.

Service Alberta stated in an email that the province is working on finalizing the contract, which is due to close at the end of the month, however, wouldn’t add much more in detail.

“While we are not at liberty to disclose information about that new contract at this time, we will provide additional details once the new contract is signed,” explained Cheryl Tkalcic, assistant communications director, in an email.

She added that the province has worked to ensure the SuperNet service continues now and after the contract expires.

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