Nunavik explores options for better internet access
A pre-feasibility study will evaluate the costs and practicality of four options
KUUJJUAQ — Tamaani, Nunavik’s leading internet service provider, wants to find a way to give the region the broadband it needs — before 2016.
That’s because after Sept. 30, 2016, the federal program called Broadband Canada that subsidizes satellite internet to Nunavik and other remote regions, ends. Then, in 2019, the National Satellite Initiative, another federal program that helps underwrite telecommunications in Nunavik, ends.
This means there could leave many people in Nunavik who want to spend an increasing amount time on the internet without the broadband access they need.
Tamaani, which has more than 2,000 residential users, is already concerned that it won’t be able to meet their needs.
The Kativik Regional Government, which runs Tamaani, which means “here” in Inuttitut, is now looking at what federal and provincial government money programs will be available after 2016.
And Tamaani is also evaluating what technology can meet the growing demand.
The bad news is that Tamaani doesn’t yet know what programs will be around to help subsidize internet access in Nunavik, said Jean-François Dumoulin, the assistant director of Tamaani.
The good news, he said, is that no one has said no yet to any requests for help.
To explore the options, Tamaani has started a pre-feasibility study for a “high-capacity” network in Nunavik, which will explore four solutions: an underwater fibre-optic cable (such as the one suggested by Arctic Fibre), over-land fibre-optics, tower-based microwave transmitters or new high-speed satellite technology.
The best case scenario would be fibre-optic connections in all communities in Nunavik, Dumoulin said.
Another situation could see all four technologies used.
That new Nunavik-wide network, whatever it is, would replace the current Tamaani network and provide more bandwidth and higher speed than the region now sees.
“The solution is how we get this service at the best cost possible,” Dumoulin told councillors at this week’s meeting of KRG regional council in Kuujjuaq.
The goal, Dumoulin said, is to “not just make it fast,” but also bring up the bandwidth because the needs in the region have risen 30 times since Tamaani started in 2004, and are expected to increase by another 30 times by 2021.
The pre-feasibility study is expected to be finished by this summer.
By next December, the internet service provider hopes to have a government partner on board.