NEWS: Nunavut January 06, 2017 - 7:00 am

Iqaluit internet provider plans library of buffer-free content

“If it’s cached on our system, then it plays it to them at the highest speed possible"


Netflix and buffer.

In a region where watching movies at home includes waiting for videos to load, an Iqaluit internet provider is hoping to lighten the bandwidth load for local users.

Iqaluit’s Meshnet launched home services last spring, and with it, a new local caching service designed to respond to viewers’ interests.

The internet provider sought the service of Waterloo, Ont.-based Aterlo Networks, whose NightShift technology detects viewers’ selections on the popular video streaming site Netflix.

Nightshift is connected to Iqaluit’s satellite upload link and to local users, explained Aterlo’s CEO Gerrit Nagelhout.

When a customer downloads an episode of a television series, for example, Nightshift Technology detects which episode, and during the off-peak usage period—typically the early morning hours—the system will automatically pre-load the next few episodes.

“If someone is watching House of Cards, we detect that and start grabbing the next three episodes and stay ahead of them everyday,” Nagelhout said. “As other people start watching the same TV show, they start getting it for free.”

Among Meshnet’s customer base, about 40 per cent of streaming in now coming through Aterlo’s system, he said, although its benefits will continue to grow with usage.

As someone watches a movie that was already pre-loaded during the night, they’ll have better quality streaming and no buffering, Nagelhout said. And because that bandwidth is coming through Aterlo’s system, that in turn frees up bandwidth for other users in the community.

The service is no entirely unique; Northwestel already works with a major content provider to cache data in Iqaluit, which allows better access to video and website content.

Prices vary for internet service in Nunavut’s capital: Meshnet already offers unlimited usage with its $160 a month flat rate.

Northwestel offers a 10GB package for $60 a month and up to 50GB for $180. Qiniq’s Taki Pro 4G service offers 50GB and Nunavut-wide roaming for $399 a month.

Meshnet’s CEO David Fulgham has worked for a number of years in telecommunications in Nunavut, including with Northwestel and Comguard, before he launched Meshnet as a commercial service in 2011, and then a home-based one in 2016.

“Our idea is that we shouldn’t be charging for [both] time and bandwidth,” Fulgham said.

“We’ve done a lot of local caching of data,” he said, noting the provider has stored more than a terabyte of Netflix data since the service launched over six months ago.

“If it’s cached on our system, then it plays it to them at the highest speed possible. They could potentially pull that movie down at close to 20 megabytes per second, high-definition, without any buffering on their end.”

One Meshnet subscriber in Iqaluit said they had “no complaints” about the its service. “We stream Netflix with no troubles for the most part,” the customer said.

The company has plans to expand to other communities in Nunavut, although Fulgham said there’s no set timeline for that move.