Mobile provider Ice Wireless beefs up network in Iqaluit
“We are pleased to be able to turn up this capacity at a time when it is most needed”
Ice Wireless, the northern mobile phone and internet provider, and its partner company, Iristel, have doubled network capacity in Iqaluit at a time that coincides with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Children and youth, as well as many workers, are now confined to their homes in Iqaluit and are expected to put more pressure on the satellite-based telecom networks that carry voice and internet services to the community.
“Telecommunications infrastructure remains a very limited resource in the North, but we are pleased to be able to turn up this capacity at a time when it is most needed,” said Samer Bishay, CEO of both Iristel and Ice Wireless.
Ice Wireless offers mobile phone service in Whitehorse in Yukon, and in the Northwest Territories communities of Behchoko, Yellowknife, Dettah, Hay River and Inuvik, and launched a similar service in Iqaluit in 2013.
The company had actually started work on the network upgrade about a year ago, well before the COVID-19 pandemic started.
But the company says its improved network comes online at a good time.
“Iqalummiut, like all Canadians, are now relying on their mobile and Internet services more and more to keep in touch with loved ones, receive telemedicine advice and counsel, work from home and keep themselves entertained while practicing social distancing,” the company said in a news release.
The company says its new network architecture combines multiple satellite technologies, including C-band satellite service and Ka-band satellite capacity that’s made available through the Connect to Innovate program offered by Industry Canada.
“We are proud to work in partnership with the federal government to help bridge the digital divide for people in Canada’s North,” Bishay said.
Earlier this month, Ice Wireless announced that it had removed data speed restrictions from customers.
Under its Unlimited Wireless plan, customers already have unlimited data, but until now when customers used 10 gigabytes in any given month, the company would “throttle” or slow down their download speeds.
But that throttling practice is now suspended until further notice, the company said.
“With the number of COVID-19 reported cases doubling over the past week, we support government requests to increase self-isolation and social distancing in order to ‘flatten the growth curve’ of the virus,” Bishay said on March 16.