CityWest report highlights accomplishments, challenges and opportunites for the future

CityWest executives presented the company's general annual shareholder report to city council on Oct. 22.

Prince Rupert video game lovers, environmentalists or anyone frustrated with customer service will be happy to know that CityWest, Prince Rupert’s main telecommunications provider, has been making improvements to its services.

CityWest executives presented the general annual shareholder report that highlighted accomplishments, opportunities, and challenges from the past year to Prince Rupert city council at the last meeting held Oct. 22.

Accomplishments include opening a small office in Kitimat, signing agreements with two unions CityWest employees belong to, improving TV service by purchasing and installing a “Superdish” designed to add more TV content and reduce signal fees.

CityWest has also solved the lack of available bandwidth to meet growing demands, which will resolve issues local gamers have been complaining about. The company is releasing a new high speed internet plan called Quantum, with customers having an option for a 10 or 15 megabit plan. Additionally, there will be no more charges for over usage.

“It’s a great leap in service, and has been long-awaited in Prince Rupert,” said Jack Payne, vice-chair of CityWest.

However the company still faces challenges, the first of which being to increase revenue and control company expenses.

Another challenge the company is planning to overcome is how customer complaints and questions are dealt with.

“Customer service is a big issue for our company. We haven’t done as good a job as we could have with it,” said Payne.

The company will be implementing a new method where people calling in will be able to speak with a person, as well as an updated website where people can get assistance daily.

Finally, CityWest is hoping to come to an agreement with other companies to improve the mobile phone network. Currently, smart phone owners are able to use some applications on their phones, but not all.

“With the advent of three competitive cellular companies in Prince Rupert, the economics for our mobile solution have substantially changed. Prior to competition, we were able to justify the continuing upgrade of the network over a larger customer base,” Steve Lake, CityWest board member, said, adding the customer base has been diminishing because of competition.

CityWest isn’t in a place financially to put a large investment in the mobile network to bring it up to standards, but Lake says the company is actively negotiating with potential partners to find a solution.

In terms of opportunities for the future, CityWest is planning to build a WiFi network covering the downtown and Cow Bay region before the next tourist season that will be available to customers and for purchase by others wishing to roam on it. The exact business model and method has not been determined yet.

Further more, the company will try to promote e-billing to customers to reduce paper usage. CityWest sends out approximately 15,000 envelopes each month, with only nine per cent of customers currently using e-billing.