Qiniq promises true broadband for Nunavut

“Finally, the territory is going to be on equal par with the South”


Nunavut will finally have true broadband in two or three years, thanks to the latest federal funding announcement, says the organization that created the Qiniq network

“We’ll finally be living up to our name as Nunavut Broadband,” said Nunavut Broadband Development Corporation executive director Patrick Doyle. “Right now we’re ‘Nunavut Highspeed.’”

Qiniq is among the 52 beneficiaries of cash from Industry Canada’s “Broadband Canada” program announced in 2009.

The Qiniq network is set to receive $10.6 million from the feds, matching investment from Nunavut Broadband’s Yellowknife-based internet provider SSi Micro.

Doyle said the bulk of this money – 80 per cent – will be used to buy satellite bandwidth.

In previous years, Nunavut Broadband has underestimated the demand for internet access in Nunavut, so simply hadn’t purchased enough satellite bandwidth to accommodate all its customers.

The network was originally designed to handle around 1,000 customers. But there are more than 4,000 current Qiniq subscribers and 2,000 more expected in the next two years.

The result was effectively a rationing of satellite bandwidth, so transmission speeds were nowhere near the potential of the local hardware – especially during peak hours.

The other 20 per cent of the federal money will go toward upgrading hardware for the network in all the communities of Nunavut.

Over the next two to three years, technical personnel will be going from one community to the next to make the necessary installations.

Once the upgrades are done and the satellite agreements come into effect, Doyle says Nunavut’s internet speeds will be comparable to those of the urban centres of southern Canada – within limits.

“If everyone in the territory logs on to live-stream their favourite movie at the same time, then there’ll be a problem,” he admitted.

“Broadband” officially means transmission speeds of over 1.5 megabits per second, around double the top speed of Qiniq’s current highest-speed package.

Doyle said all customers will get this new speed, rather than the current system of different speeds for different classes of subscriptions.

Real broadband would allow internet voice chat without drop-outs, lag-free online video gaming, YouTube videos that don’t take ten minutes to download, and other amenities.

“Finally, the territory is going to be on equal par with the South,” Doyle said.

Qiniq’s customers will still have to accept monthly caps on downloads, with different classes of account with different caps.

Doyle said the caps will be higher than they are at present, but could not say by how much.

Download speeds will still drop to dial-up speed – a relative crawl – if the customer exceeds his cap.

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