Blame it on the rain: all-day internet outage in Iqaluit because of wet weather, Northwestel says

Amplifier upgrades planned for city in October 2020

Northwestel says the heavy rain that Iqaluit experienced yesterday is to blame for outages throughout the day. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

When heavy rain fell on Iqaluit yesterday, its connections to the outside world fell apart.

For most of the work day, internet, cable and cell service cut in and out.

Some Iqaluit residents took to social media to express their frustration.


When asked about the outage, Northwestel declined Nunatsiaq News’ request for an interview and instead provided a statement through email.

“Customers in Iqaluit are experiencing intermittent service disruptions today due to extreme weather conditions in the community. Northwestel and Telesat are working to implement planned amplifier upgrades for Iqaluit in October 2020.”

In 2017, federal Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains announced $50 million to improve Nunavut’s internet infrastructure.

That money was also intended to ensure households in Nunavut have internet speeds of at least 5 Mbps.

At the time, Northwestel also committed $73 million to “build the backbone satellite network needed to make higher-speed internet available in every community across Nunavut.”

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(20) Comments:

  1. Posted by Old trapper on

    That nothing in iqaluit you should see arviat raining all the time and down.

  2. Posted by NWTel is a garbage company on

    I caaaaaaaaaan’t wait for the day when a decent competitor enters the market…whether it be the GN backed fibre op or one of these satellite constellations (Oneweb, spaceX). NWTel have treated Nunavut residents like garbage for years. I’d pay a little more for a little less speed just to be able to give NWTel the 2 finger salute.
    .
    Also: flood their phone lines and ask for a discount because of the outage. They messed up big time and they keep blaming different issues every time this happens.

  3. Posted by Qiqu on

    C’mon Northwestel, just put a plastic bag on the end thingy like everyone else does.

  4. Posted by speedy on

    The internet used to work in the rain. This is a fairly new problem. They really ought give rebates for each cloudy/foggy/rainy day. In 2020 it is hard to accept an excuse like “rain” as a reason for the internet not working.

  5. Posted by Mayors on

    When the current mayor (in self imposed isolation from society) finds out that the former mayor is getting all the “WHERE OUR INTERNETS?!” retweet glory on Twitter, it’s sure to cause more needless but entertaining drama.

  6. Posted by Extreme weather on

    Really, a few cm of rain is now extreme weather nwtel? Like most Nunavut businesses, when you’re the only game in town you don’t need to do a good job to survive.

  7. Posted by David Veniot on

    NWTel is not the only game in town. QINIQ and SSi Mobile are in all 25 communities and work fine in the rain.

    • Posted by Same satellite on

      They all run on the same satellite man. None of the competitors is even close to Nwtel with speed or data caps. There is no competition here, just a bunch of prepaid services that have a target market and even worse reliability.

      • Posted by David Veniot on

        Well, that’s actually not true. Northwestel primarily uses Telesat’s T19 Ka-band satellite. SSi-Qiniq uses the same satellite in only 2 communities (Iqaluit is one of them), and uses Telesat’s Anik F2 and F3 C-band satellites in the other 23 communities. The reason Qiniq keeps working in Iqaluit during the rain has to do with the hardware on the ground that communicates to the satellite….different setup, different results.

    • Posted by Nathaniel on

      David Veniot, I don’t know if you can call what Qiniq offers as working fine ever…such a garbage service.

      • Posted by David Veniot on

        One man’s opinion versus thousands of happy customers over the past 15 years. Survey data proves it.

        • Posted by Score on

          I don’t think the survey you speak of tells the whole story. Qiniq is crazy expensive and during the covid lockdown, when people really needed it, it was pretty much unusable during regular business hours. The days when that kind of service was acceptable up here are over. I’m tried of businesses just shrugging and charging too much for it.

  8. Posted by George on

    Can we connect to Greenland’s fibre cables or be part of Nunavik’s Fibre project?
    This expensive satellite internet where the government’s keep putting in hundreds of millions to keep it going needs a major upgrade to Fibre.

  9. Posted by costy on

    Rain is not “extreme weather”. Can someone from Northwestel please explain what they meant when they used that expression, because it cannot possible be the rain. It wasn’t just July 21. A little drizzle and clouds and the whole thing grinds to a halt. This wasn’t an issue a couple of years ago, so why is rain suddenly “extreme” and why aren’t we getting rebates for rainy days?

  10. Posted by Kane Inutiq on

    I agree to every one of the comments above, NWTel sucks….
    They should switch to fibre optics or even greater…..

  11. Posted by Happy customer on

    Jeez… I remember getting a red warning on my weather app about the rain. It definitely wasn’t a drizzle like some of you make it sound. Sure, most big cities don’t have their internet go down when there’s heavy rainfall, but we’re not a big city. There are many challenges to infrastructure in the north. There have been major improvements to the internet speeds and packages in recent years with several more to come (fiber optic being one of them). So I guess I’ll be the first to say, thank you. Thank you to the Gov’t for recognizing the importance and spending millions of dollars and time to work on connectivity (not all of which are my tax dollars). Thank you NWTel for the extra gigs during the pandemic and the permanent increase to my monthly package. I will survive with intermittent internet on the heaviest rainfall of the year. Stay strong brothers and sisters

    • Posted by survival on

      Happy customer, I will survive with intermittent internet too, but we aren’t talking about surviving or getting by. And the internet cuts out even when it’s light rain for just a couple of hours, so this isn’t a one time thing that happens only when there’s a rainfall warning. And while we’re on that, those warnings are relevant to where you live. Down south they get extreme cold warnings from Environment Canada when it’s -15, because it’s unexpected and they might not be prepared for it, whereas we wouldn’t get that. The point is, that red banner warning was not because the weather was actually “extreme”. It didn’t rain especially hard and it wasn’t insane. It was a constant rainfall that lasted all day, and until two years ago, NWTel had no issues when that happened. If they’ve changed equipment and that has caused problems on rainy days, they should adjust peoples’ bills and be honest, rather than treating us like morons and saying the weather was “extreme”.
      And the major improvements to the speeds and packages don’t mean we aren’t still getting ripped off. They pretended for years that their system couldn’t possible handle packages over 100gb, and pretended the CRTC was somehow a barrier, yet they did just fine when it was 200gb during lockdown. They should be offering unlimited internet at reasonable costs, without needing to pay for a landline.

      • Posted by Surfer on

        Remember when NorthwesTel first started to offer internet service in Iqaluit, it used to be unlimited until a handful started abusing it by constantly downloading huge gigs all day, they had to introduce limited plans.
        If they could offer unlimited plans back then I’m sure they could still offer that with a price.
        But better yet I agree we should connect to fibre to our neighbours o the east or south of us.

      • Posted by David Veniot on

        It all comes down to federal subsidies. In the last few years, NWTel received the money and so could offer more data. In the next round of federal broadband support, who knows?

        • Posted by Collin on

          Instead of funding Northwestel fund another company to connect with Greenland’s fibre optic cable.

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