SaskTel to charge fee for email service in April, won't issue new email addresses

Sasktel says the cost of providing a free email service 'is no longer justified.' (GaudiLab / Shutterstock - image credit)
Sasktel says the cost of providing a free email service 'is no longer justified.' (GaudiLab / Shutterstock - image credit)

Come April, SaskTel's email addresses won't be available to new subscribers, and current internet customers will see a new fee on their bill.

The Crown-owned telecommunications firm will be charging $1.95 per month per address for all existing email addresses. SaskTel also posted on its website that as of Jan.19  they have stopped providing email addresses to new subscribers.

"The industry has changed since SaskTel introduced free email many years ago, and the cost to provide free email service is no longer justified," an announcement on its website reads.

SaskTel says it's making the change because there are many free services available.

David Gerhard, head of the University of Manitoba computer science department, says it can be expensive for smaller email services like SaskTel to provide email addresses compared to larger services like Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo.

"If you're running millions or billions of email addresses the incremental cost of each address is essentially nothing," Gerhard said. "So if the number of people who are using email addresses through SaskTel is reduced, then the per-email address cost would be increased."

University of Manitoba
University of Manitoba

SaskTel is a direct provider which means they don't buy from cloud services.

"They're constructing it themselves and serving it themselves, which is a more expensive way to do things," Gerhard said.

Gerhard said software as a service model is a more modern way of offering email services. Services like Gmail pay a software fee for a cloud service rather than building their own servers and developing them themselves.

"I would not be surprised if other organizations who had previously been supplying email directly would start to shift to software as a service, " Gerhard said.

"Or if they have to build it themselves, [they would] start to charge more money to do so."

Inconvenience for SaskTel email users

Gerhard said there will likely be some frustrated customers who use email as a form of communication for work and friends.

"So if SaskTel changes the way they do email and they decide they want to shift to something like Gmail, they'd have to tell everybody to stop using this email address," Gerhard said.

"That may be too much of an inconvenience for some folks and they may decide to start paying the money anyway."

SaskTel says they are letting customers know of the change in service.

"SaskTel understands how important email accounts and addresses may be to some, and in order to provide customers with ample notice of this planned rate change SaskTel has begun communicating to impacted customers," a SaskTel emailed statement to CBC read.

If you plan to change your email provider from SaskTel, Gerhard suggests letting your contacts know your new email address, setting up a forwarding system to your new email and downloading all your emails so you have a copy of them.