Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik May 31, 2018 - 2:30 pm

All 14 Nunavik communities to get cellphone, mobile service

Service should be rolled out in three or four weeks

SARAH ROGERS
A Tamaani technician checks out some of the service providers' equipment in Kuujjuaq during upgrades done in 2015 to implement 4G technology throughout the region. Starting next month, Tamaani and Ice Wireless will deliver cellular services to all 14 Nunavik communities. (FILE PHOTO)
A Tamaani technician checks out some of the service providers' equipment in Kuujjuaq during upgrades done in 2015 to implement 4G technology throughout the region. Starting next month, Tamaani and Ice Wireless will deliver cellular services to all 14 Nunavik communities. (FILE PHOTO)

One of the last regions in Canada without cellular service is about to answer that call.

By the end of June, all 14 communities in Nunavik will gain access to cellular and mobile data services under a new agreement between Tamaani Internet, owend by the Kativik Regional Government, and Ice Wireless.

The long-awaited service should be rolled out in three to four weeks, said Daryl Combden, director of the KRG’s administration department.

Ice Wireless, which already operates in Iqaluit, will offer national and international roaming and cell phone service through its parent company Iristel’s Canada-wide network.

Tamaani will offer the bandwidth through its telecommunications infrastructure, which was recently upgraded.

Nunavimmiut will gain access to 3G/LTE technology, which includes services like texting, apps, voice-phone, and internet surfing on their smartphones.

Cellular and mobile data services can be purchased through Ice Wireless, which is expected to have a local point of contact in the region once cellular service is up and running, Combden said.

All of its smartphone plans include unlimited calls, texts and roaming throughout Canada, United States and Mexico, starting from $49 per month. Voice-and-text-only plans start from $9 per month.

The network was designed specifically for use within the communities, but Combden said there should be some range depending on the surrounding geography.

“The service will be distributed from the community and then it’s a ‘line of sight’ from there,” he said. “Depending on the community it can go up to four or five miles.”

A handful of Nunavik communities have had access to cellular services in the past, largely through the Makivik-run Nunacell, which worked alongside Lynx Mobility.

That 2G service initially launched in Kuujjuaq in 2010, later adding three other communities: Inukjuak, Puvirnituq and Salluit, though service could be spotty.

At its peak, Nunacell had about 1,200 customers around the region.

Makivik pulled out of the partnership with Lynx Mobility in 2015, at which point it began working on a pilot with a new cellular provider with the goal to expand services.

Eventually, KRG took over the initiative.

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