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Hamlets reach broadband compromise

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Nunavut’s municipalities have agreed to contribute $10,000 each, so that even the smallest communities can gain access to a 20-mile radius of wireless broadband Internet.

Mayors and SAOs were not pleased when an NBDC board member told the Nunavut Association of Municipalities in early May that six decentralized communities would get service within a 20-mile radius, while smaller communities would get wireless services only within a one-mile radius, unless they could come up with $50,000.

The Nunavut Broadband Development Corporation held a teleconference with 14 municipalities to discuss the problem on May 19, where hamlets agreed they should ask each hamlet to share the costs of the long-range service.

Five councils have met since that meeting, and all have agreed to donate $10,000, even after being assured that they would get the full service anyway. The remaining councils will meet this month.

NBDC project manager Lorraine Thomas recently visited 10 communities and says she is “overwhelmed” with the demand for broadband internet, and the hamlets’ willingness to contribute. The NBDC originally underestimated the need for long-range service.

The municipality-driven solution will help, but even if 20 out of 25 communities find the money, NBDC will still be $400,000 short of the $650,000 that the higher radius systems will cost.

Some municipalities are facing major debts and will not be able to contribute. NBDC is currently working on proposals for more funding.

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