Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 01, 2010 - 2:36 pm

Nunavut Broadband rolls out new services

Firm offers videoconferencing, large file transfers

GABRIEL ZARATE
Nunavut MLA Leona Aglukkaq appears via teleconference from Ottawa to attend the unveiling of Nunavut Broadband’s new teleconferencing and large file transfer services. To her left is Nunavut Broadband president Darrell Ohokannoak. (PHOTO BY GABRIEL ZÁRATE)
Nunavut MLA Leona Aglukkaq appears via teleconference from Ottawa to attend the unveiling of Nunavut Broadband’s new teleconferencing and large file transfer services. To her left is Nunavut Broadband president Darrell Ohokannoak. (PHOTO BY GABRIEL ZÁRATE)

The Nunavut Broadband Development Corporation rolled out two long-delayed services at the Nunavut Trade Show Sept. 22.

To demonstrate the new videoconferencing service that the NBDC offers, Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq appeared by videoconference from Ottawa to take questions from the public.

“For northern communities broadband internet is not just nice to have,” she said. “They are fundamental necessities.”

Nunavut Broadband has established two dedicated pipelines of bandwidth separate from the Qiniq internet network: one for videoconferencing and the other for large file transfers.

The videoconferencing service, called “Meet Online,” will eventually come in three different levels of accounts depending on the level of use.

Of the three, only the most advanced, “Meet Online Enterprise” is available so far, as was the connection Aglukkaq used for the videoconference demonstration.

Aglukkaq said she looked forward to using Meet Online to consult with her constituents in her home community of Gjoa Haven, to where a round trip from Ottawa would cost taxpayers $4,000.

More modest versions of the Meet Online service — geared toward small businesses and families — are still under development.

When Nunavut Broadband first looked at providing a specialized service for large file transfers, the plan was originally to use off-peak hours such as night-time and weekends.

The large file transfer service, dubbed “Qfile,” is complete and rolled out at three levels, varying from $9 to $145 a month with up to 10 gigabytes storage.

Qfile will allow customers to send files too large to attach in an email, such as medical X-ray images or geographic survey data.

Nunavut Broadband’s information states that the user fees represent only half the actual cost of the service, the rest paid by Infrastructure Canada.

Ottawa will given them $7.8 million for the two services between 2009 and 2012.

Jeff Phillip, president and CEO of SSiMicro – the Yellowknife based internet provider that Nunavut Broadband contracts to run their network — explained that both services work off the same new satellite infrastructure.

SSiMicro spent more than a year installing the necessary equipment in all 25 Nunavut communities — and Ottawa — and finalizing the contracts for buying satellite time.

“We’ve literally replaced the entire satellite backbone in this last year and a half,” Phillip said.

The new setup lets communication between Nunavut communities take place in a single satellite hop, which reduces use of expensive satellite bandwidth and lessens the time-delay in videoconferences.

Even so, a slight delay was noticeable as Aglukkaq, who was sitting in Ottawa fielded questions from Iqaluit.

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