Ice Wireless and Iristel have joined forces to expand the range of telecommunications and Internet services available in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.

“Northwestel’s monopoly is officially at an end,” said Iristel President Samer Bishay, who was recently also named president of Ice Wireless. “We are proud to finally be able to give Northern Canadian residents a choice when it comes to their local phone company while at the same time launch an aggressive expansion of our cellular network across the North.”

Mr. Bishay added that healthy competition will go a long way toward ending the so-called “digital divide” between Canada’s northern communities and populated areas in the south. “Competition breeds innovation and choices for customers. Today’s new cost-effective technology is changing the game and people in Canada’s North will receive the benefits.”

In the past, Northwestel has been the only option for residents of Northern Canada when it comes to their telephone provider. Northwestel is a Bell Canada subsidiary and has had a monopoly in the region for decades. However, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recently ordered that other competitive telephone companies be allowed to enter the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut markets starting May 1, 2012.

Privately-held Iristel, which is a major shareholder in ICE, has been licensed by the CRTC as a carrier since 2000. It is one of the largest VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service providers in Canada with a coast-to-coast network. Iristel will now be competing with Northwestel in a range of telephone services including VoIP and wholesale long distance.

Meanwhile, Ice Wireless’ network is set to expand dramatically in the coming months across the North and compete aggressively with Bell Mobility. New data services will be rolled out, including high-speed 3G data, in the coming months and local cellular coverage will be expanded in larger communities.