High-speed Internet service coming soon to east-Arctic Canada

Starting Oct. 1, residents in Iqaluit will have access to Northwestel’s new high-speed broadband satellite network. (Chinnapong/Shutterstock)
Iqaluit residents can expect to check their emails, tweet and do everything else online three times faster beginning next month.

Northwestel has announced that the capital city will be the first to have access to its new high-speed broadband satellite network.

Called Tamarmik Nunaliit — Inuktitut for “every community” — the network provides up to 20 times more capacity than the previous satellite, Northwestel said.

“This Tamarmik Nunalit network will significantly improve broadband internet services for schools and health centres across Nunavut while enhancing access and innovation opportunities for residents and businesses in every community,” Northwestel President Curtis Shaw said in a statement.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in July deploying Telstar’s new satellite. Northwestel has a long-term contract for the capacity of the satellite to improve service in Nunavut. (SpaceX)
Coverage to extend to all of Nunavut

Beginning Oct. 1 people in Iqaluit will be able to purchase 15-megabits per second internet packages, which include 100 gigabytes of monthly usage, for $129 per month, according to the news release. There will also be a new five megabits per second package for $80 per month.

The faster service is expected to be available in Cambridge Bay, Arviat and Rankin Inlet by the end of the year and in all 25 of Nunavut’s communities by 2019.

The federal government invested $49.9 million from the $500 million Connect to Innovate program in Northwestel’s project to improve coverage in Nunavut (territory in northeast Canada).

Fast internet not a luxury, says federal government
Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development says high-speed internet is an essential service. (Travis Burke/CBC)

In December 2016, the CRTC, Canada’s regulatory agency for broadcasting and telecommunications, declared broadband internet access as a basic telecommunications service.

“Access to high-speed Internet is not a luxury; it’s an essential service that all Canadians should have access to, regardless of where they live,” Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains said in a statement.

“Our communities need this service to do business, upgrade their education and build stronger communities.”

The project became a reality after Telstar’s throughput satellite — which uses concentrated technology to provide greater power for broadband internet access — was deployed from the SpaceX Falcon 9 that launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July.

With the new open access network, Bell is also expanding its broadband wireless service to Nunavut communities.

The news release says Bell Mobility is now trialling its LTE in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet. 13 more communities are expected to be connected by the end of this year with coverage planned for all 25 Nunavut communities in 2019.

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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