Bell Canada says it is selling Northwestel Inc. to Sixty North Unity, a consortium of Indigenous communities from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, for around $1 billion.

It says in a press release that Northwestel, which provides phone, internet and television services in Canada's north, will become the largest telecommunications company worldwide with full Indigenous ownership.

Sixty North Unity says it is planning significant capital investment to double fibre internet speeds, expand high-speed availability and bring critical resiliency to safeguard against wildfires and other natural disasters.

The consortium is planning to maintain Northwestel's leadership team including its president, Curtis Shaw, while increasing Indigenous representation in the workforce.

Bell says it will maintain a strategic partnership with Northwestel after the transaction closes through ongoing operational support.

The telecom giant originally acquired Northwestel in 1988.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2024.