Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut April 14, 2010 - 4:19 pm

Nunavut Broadband’s new features stalled once again

Hoped-for applications on Qiniq postponed indefinitely

SPECIAL TO NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Employees of the Nunavut Broadband Corp.’s Qiniq internet service, in a demonstration held in 2007, show off an audio-video application that they wanted to offer to customers. That, and other new features will have to be postponed indefinitely. (FILE PHOTO)
Employees of the Nunavut Broadband Corp.’s Qiniq internet service, in a demonstration held in 2007, show off an audio-video application that they wanted to offer to customers. That, and other new features will have to be postponed indefinitely. (FILE PHOTO)

Long-suffering customers of Nunavut Broadband Development Corp.’s Qiniq network have been told to brace for more delays in rolling out much-hyped new services and service enhancements.

“This recent development is due directly to issues concerning the timing and speed of funding flow from Infrastructure Canada, complicated by matters beyond our control in the Northwest Territories,” Nunavut Broadband’s president, Darrell Ohokannoak, said at Nunavut Broadband’s annual general meeting April 8.

NBDC’s roughly 4,500 customers have anticipated for years the company’s roll-out of video-conferencing, real-time audio, large file transfer and intra-community communication since they were first announced in March 2007.

The corporation has now “postponed with no new date set at this time” those services, which had already been delayed by the NBDC lawsuit against the Qulliq Energy Corporation, finally settled in 2009.

Other delayed services include shared documents, off-peak-hours, large file transfer and dedicated bandwidth.

All these services are collectively the corporation’s “Infrastructure II” expansion.

Infrastructure II has been delayed again and again, with the most recent postponement from October 2009 to March 2010.

But then SSi Micro — the Yellowknife-based provider which won the Nunavut Broadband contract for these services — requested they be postponed indefinitely.

“We are doing whatever we can to expedite a solution and remain hopeful for a June launch date pending successful resolution,” Ohokannoak said.

Another stalled initiative is “Classroom Connect,” which began providing internet access to two schools in each of Nunavut’s three regions in January 2010.

Nunavut Broadband had hoped to expand the project into the rest of the territory, but had banked on $2.1 million in matching funds from Nunavut’s Department of Education.

Those funds have not materialized, so for now, Classroom Connect remains only in schools in Arctic Bay, Baker Lake, Kugluktuk, Rankin Inlet, Sanikiluaq and Taloyoak.

The Infrastructure II expansion had been the subject of a risk profile report, which found the expansion was risky because funding could not be counted upon.

That risk profile report was not included among the reasons for the Infrastructure II services’ indefinite postponement.

One of the expansion’s elements did go ahead as planned: the upgrade of the Qiniq network completed in December 2009.

Qiniq has 4,500 subscribers, with more than 2,000 more expected in the next two years.

To address the rising demand,  the company installed new hardware in many communities, resulting in more bandwidth and speed and fewer outages.

The corporation spent $830,000 on the settlement of its lawsuit with the Qulliq Energy Corporation, which came about because of NBDC’s use of QEC facilities to house its internet hardware.

About one-third of that sum was for buying QEC assets so they can still be used.

The rest amounted to back rent on the facilities Nunavut Broadband had been using for free, without a written agreement between the two corporations.

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