A newly deployed satellite will soon bring higher internet speeds to Nunavut

Four Nunavut communities will see faster internet offerings by this fall, with higher speeds rolled out to the territory’s other 21 communities by the end of 2019.

By Sarah Rogers, Nunatsiaq News - July 25, 2018
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida July 22, bringing with it Telesat’s new Telstar 19 VANTAGE high-throughput satellite. The deployment will eventually deliver higher speed internet to communities in Nunavut. (SPACEX)

The launch of a new satellite this week will bring higher speed broadband connection for some internet users in Nunavut.

Telesat’s new Telstar 19 VANTAGE high-throughput satellite was deployed July 22 aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Florida.

The Ottawa-based satellite operator has a long-term contract with Northwestel for use of its satellite capacity in each of Nunavut’s 25 communities — all of which will benefit from the improved broadband in the months to come.

In Nunavut, increased bandwidth capacity stems from the roughly $50 million the federal government invested last fall into improving high-speed internet across the territory, from its Connect to Innovate program.

“This is a key milestone in that project,” said Northwestel spokesperson Andrew Anderson of Telesat’s new satellite launch.

“This is a Ka-band satellite that will deliver faster speeds to all 25 communities.”

There’s still some ground work and testing that needs to happen first, he said.

But by the fall, Northwestel plans to launch new high-speed packages to four communities — Arviat, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit — offering increased speeds of up to 15 megabits per second and monthly data usage of up to 100 gigabytes.

The territory’s other 21 communities will see those same speeds offered by the end of 2019.

Currently, Northwestel’s highest-speed package available offers about five-megabits-per-second speeds, though those speeds are lower in some smaller communities.

“It’s a significant increase to what’s available on the market today,” Anderson said.

At the same time, Northwestel is working alongside Bell Mobility to expand its wireless 4G service or LTE to all 25 communities by the end of next year.

Currently, nine Nunavut communities are supposed to already have access to Bell’s LTE network, a standard for high-speed communication on mobile devices.