Northwestel wants to improve broadband to small communities in northwestern Canada

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Northwestel is planning to decommission the microwave towers it currently uses for broadband service to Destruction Bay, Burwash Landing and Beaver Creek. (Northwestel)
Northwestel is promising better phone service and faster internet for communities along the north Alaska Highway, in northwestern Canada, as it plans to install a new fibre optic line.

The project, now before the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB), would bring higher broadband capacity into Destruction Bay, Burwash Landing and Beaver Creek, Yukon.

“What bringing fibre into the communities will do will mean more capacity right away for things like government services, schools, [First Nation] offices, and it’s the first step for faster speeds right into the home,” says Andrew Anderson, director of communications with Northwestel.

“Obviously for that, we also have to look at what we call the ‘last mile’ — the infrastructure that takes it from the fibre coming into the community, all the way into the home.”

The company is planning to decommission the microwave towers it currently uses for broadband service to the three communities.

Andrew Anderson of Northwestel says the new fibre optic line ‘will mean more capacity right away for things like government services, schools, [First Nation] offices.’ (CBC)
Anderson says Northwestel is still working with YESAB to solicit public comment before the project can move forward.

“If this project is approved and the fibre goes ahead, that will allow us to decommission those microwave towers which is good news. That means electricity savings, power savings,” Anderson said.

Carmin Hinson, who owns Buckshot Betty’s Restaurant in Beaver Creek, says she’ll welcome the improvements to phone service.

“Beaver Creek has the worst service in the [territory of] Yukon, so there you go. That’s all I gotta say,” Hinson laughed.

“Sometimes you can’t hear each other talk, or it’s really crackly, or sometimes people can’t hear you. They will try to phone here and the phone’s ringing but it doesn’t pick up, or sometimes you can hear other people talking.”

Northwestel hopes to start work on the project this spring. (Northwestel)

Once Northwestel gets the regulatory approval it hopes to start working on the project this spring and throughout the summer.

Northwestel is funding the fibre project but would not say how much it will cost.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: $125.2 million announced for high-speed internet in Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Sámi school preserves reindeer herders’ heritage with help of internet, Cryopolitics Blog

Norway: Two new satellites to boost Norway’s Arctic internet, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia to link military installations with trans-Arctic cable, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Northern Sweden to host more Facebook servers, Radio Sweden

United States: Healthcare facilities in rural Alaska struggle to pay internet bills, Alaska Public Media

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Mike Rudyk, CBC News

Mike Rudyk, CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

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