🇨🇦 KRG offers fibre optic internet connection from Nunavik to Nunavut

By Misha Radkevitch - June 10, 2023
Fibre optic cable is seen here being laid in Umiujaq in 2021. (File photo)

Tamaani’s underwater cable to include branches for potential future connections to Baffin Island, Sanikiluaq.

Kativik Regional Government officials say Tamaani Internet’s fibre optic cable project will allow for extensions to connect to Nunavut.

The network currently serves four Nunavik communities along the coast of Hudson Bay: Kuujjuaraapik, Umiujaq, Inukjuak and Puvirnituq.

An extension to Akulivik, Ivujivik and Salluit is expected to be completed this year. All communities are scheduled to be connected by 2026.

At Umiujaq, a branching unit exists to potentially connect nearby Sanikiluaq to the network. And when Salluit gets connected, a branching unit will be installed to give Kimmirut, Kinngait and Iqaluit the option to join.

Dan Pellerin, a telecommunications special adviser with KRG, said Nunavik has been in discussions with the GN about opportunities to connect.

“We’ve presented the option of the Government of Nunavut connecting into Salluit, and then we would take their traffic down to Montreal and back up through Salluit; so Salluit over to Kimmirut, and then Kimmirut over to Iqaluit,” he said.

KRG is leaving a cable underwater for Nunavut to connect to but Pellerin said the decision use it lies with the GN.

The GN has presented several funding announcements and requests for proposals regarding fibre optic internet over the years, but nothing has come to fruition.

Hala Duale, a spokesperson for Community and Government Services, said in an email the GN is looking at various options for fibre optic internet.

Duale said it “recently cancelled a tender for an undersea fibre link to Iqaluit. With the tender cancelled, the department is currently examining options to advance, which include collaboration with KRG.”

Last month, Community and Government Services Minister David Joanasie said a recent request for proposals on its fibre optic project failed to produce any bidders.

“We are trying to look at other options around if other entities out there are looking to do a similar project as what we have been pursuing,” Joanasie said May 29 in the legislative assembly in response to questions from Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes.

“I am still committed to working with my colleagues here on how best to spend our capital funds, and fibre has been our priority for a number of years.”

In an interview Tuesday, Hickes described Tamaani’s internet rollout as “light years” ahead of any progress Nunavut has made in recent years.

“At the end of the day, we need fibre in Nunavut, and we need it in a cost-effective way that’s going to bring benefit to the territory,” he said.

“If there’s partnership opportunities, then those remaining funds could potentially be used for other infrastructure needs.”

KRG still welcomes Starlink

As installation work continues on Tamaani’s underwater cable, KRG officials say they still welcome SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet services.

Daryl Combden, director of KRG’s administration department, estimates there are at least 600 Starlink customers in Nunavik and probably more than 2,100 using Tamaani’s services.

“We welcome Starlink capacity, it comes at a time where bandwidth is much-needed,” he said.

“Everything is going streaming now, so we welcome the bandwidth; however, we are still committed to completing our fibre optic network.”

Note: This article was updated to include a comment from Community and Government Services spokesperson Hala Duale

This article was originally produced by Nunatsiaq News.

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