Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 22, 2012 - 6:16 am

Co-op, Lynx Mobility team up to offer cell phones to Sanikiluaq

“It’ll be wonderful for the hunters”

JANE GEORGE
This LG Rumor resembles the models that new cell phone clients in Sanikiluaq will be able to purchase at their co-op store starting Nov. 1. (IMAGE COURTESY OF LYNX MOBILITY)
This LG Rumor resembles the models that new cell phone clients in Sanikiluaq will be able to purchase at their co-op store starting Nov. 1. (IMAGE COURTESY OF LYNX MOBILITY)

When André Larabie, the senior administrative officer for the Hamlet of Sanikiluaq, visited Iqaluit last week, people from his hamlet office could still reach him easily although he was more than 1,000 kilometres away from his desk.

That’s because Larabie had one of 10 cell phones that were distributed recently to him and others in Sanikiluaq so they could test out a new cellular service.

After the test period winds up Nov. 1, people in the community of 700 will be able to buy a cell phone and sign up for service at the Mitiq Co-op.

The phone service, provided by Lynx Mobility, will offer 3G connectivity.

Customers will buy their phones, an LG Android model, with a pay-as-you-go service that will also include unlimited texting after 7 p.m. as well as free weekend and evening calls.

That pre-paid minute arrangement will let clients avoid the administrative hassle of monthly bills. And they’ll be able to recharge their minutes by calling Lynx Mobility’s automated switchboard, which offers several language options, including Inuktitut.

The company has roaming agreements with other CDMA cellular providers like Bell, so their Lynx Mobility cell phones will operate anywhere there’s CDMA cellular service.

The whole start-up package, with the cell phone and a $50 pre-paid minutes package, should cost clients about $200, said Mitiq’s general manager, Scott Clark.

Some might question why a small community like Sanikiluaq — where you can practically see from one end of the town to the other — would need cell phones.

But the reach of the cell service would be up to 100 kilometres. And this means that hunters and others out on the land will be able to remain in contact more easily.

“It’ll be wonderful for the hunters,” Clark said.

The co-op has ordered 250 units. Clark said he’s already getting requests from people in town who are eager to get their own cell phones.

Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt told Nunatsiaq News he’s pleased that cell phones have finally come to his community.

“During my campaign four years ago, getting cell service in Sanikiluaq was something that I said I would work towards during my term,” he said.

Rumbolt approached Lynx Mobility three years ago to see if the company would be interested in providing the service. But the company told him it needed a working partner in the community.

“Two years ago, I approached Northwestel to see what it would take to provide the service, but they also wanted financial support in order to invest in the community,” Rumbolt said.

Earlier this year, the Mitiq co-op approached both Northwestel and Lynx Mobility to get the ball rolling on cell service for the community.

In nearby Kuujjuaraapik, Lynx Mobility’s local partner is Whapmagoostui Enterprises, located in Kuujjuaraapik’s twin Cree community.

Meanwhile, Lynx Mobility plans to continue its expansion into Nunavut and Nunavik.

Lynx Mobility has established cell phone service in Pangnirtung and is considering doing the same for other small Baffin and Kivalliq communities in the future.

In Nunavik, its local partner is Nunacell, owned by Makivik Corp.

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