Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik February 21, 2017 - 10:00 am

Faster internet coming to Nunavik, but not so fast

Regional government mulls options on fibre optic network

SARAH ROGERS
Adamie Naluiyuk, regional councillor for Salluit, has a look at the new type of modem Tamaani customers will receive next month. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Adamie Naluiyuk, regional councillor for Salluit, has a look at the new type of modem Tamaani customers will receive next month. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

KUUJJUAQ—Nunavik’s bandwidth upgrade is a few months away from being in place but the Kativik Regional Government already has its eyes set on a fibre optic network for the region.

The KRG and its internet service, Tamaani, shifted to a new satellite provider last fall with the goal of delivering greater bandwidth to the region, from 1.5 megabits per second to up to three and four megabits for its customers.

The upgrade was meant to be in place by the end of last year. But the procurement process and delivery of equipment faced delays meaning customers now have to wait for the spring until they can enjoy faster internet.

“We have to wait for all technologies to be deployed before we can increase the speeds,” said Daryl Combden, director of the KRG’s administration department, at regional council meetings Feb. 20.

Next month, Tamaani agents will visit Nunavik communities to deliver new wifi-enabled routers, or modems, to customers. The complete upgrade should be in place by April 2017, Combden said.

Regional councillors, many of whom have complained to the KRG about spotty internet service and maxed out download caps, say the upgrade can’t come fast enough.

Tamaani customers won’t see a bump in price with the new bandwidth speeds, although faster, higher-priced internet packages will be available with the upgrade.

But now the KRG has its eye on better and even faster service; the regional government commissioned a feasibility study to look into the costs of linking fibre optic to Nunavik’s 14 communities, along with Deception Bay and a handful of communities in Nunavut and Nunatsiavut.

The KRG has seen a preliminary version of the report. A final version will offer a breakdown on pricing, although it’s not clear if those findings will be made public.

And though the study includes communities outside of Nunavik, Tamaani’s Jean-François Dumoulin hasn’t decided if it will collaborate with Nunavut and Nunatsiavut on a new network.

The study suggests that it would take three years to implement a fibre optic network in Nunavik, Dumoulin said.

That falls in line with the KRG’s target to have fibre optic in place throughout Nunavik by 2021, but it also means the region must secure funding for the project this year.

A new ruling from Canada’s communications regulator bodes well for that; the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said that all Canadians must have access to fast, high speed broadband internet speeds. The CRTC defined that as 50 megabits per second download speeds and 10 megabits per second upload speeds.

Last year’s federal budget put aside an envelope of $500 million, called Connect to Innovate, to fund high speed internet to rural and remote communities across the country.

The Quebec government has also launched Québec Branché, a $100 million fund to help remote communities upgrade their bandwidth.

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