More internet bandwidth on its way to Nunavik

But full scope of fibre project still depends on federal funds

Tamaani Internet technicians help install a local fibre-optic loop in Kuujjuaq in 2016. The Nunavik internet provider has applied for another $100,000 to extends its current plans for fibre optic to five more communities. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

The KRG’s regional councillors are meeting this week at Kuujjuaq’s Katittavik Town Hall. (Photo courtesy of KRG)

The Kativik Regional Government says it’s still waiting on news of federal funding that could expand its plans to deliver speedier internet through fibre-optic cables to five more Nunavik communities.

Under its current plan, the KRG’s internet provider, Tamaani, is set to lay a new underwater fibre-optic cable this summer from Chisasibi, in James Bay, north to Puvirnituq, with spurs connecting to Kuujjuaraapik, Umiujaq and Inukjuak. The cable is set to be installed and in operation by the end of 2021.

Kuujjuaq would connect to the fibre-optic network in Schefferville, Que., roughly 400 kilometres south via microwave towers, while the rest of the region’s communities will get increased satellite capacity.

The KRG has also applied for about $100,000 from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission as well as from Ottawa’s Universal Broadband Fund, said Daryl Combden, director of the KRG’s administration department, during regional council meetings in Kuujjuaq on Tuesday.

That money would allow the KRG to extend its fibre network from four to nine of Nunavik’s 14 communities, first by extending the submarine cable from Puvirnituq to Salluit, and overland to Kangiqsujuaq, and then by laying a terrestrial fibre link between Kuujjuaq and Schefferville in place of microwave towers.

The funding would also help boost satellite capacity to other Nunavik communities.

But the KRG won’t know if the region has secured that funding until mid-2021.

“We expect to hear now next summer,” Combden said at the regional council meetings.

The good news is that the region’s current fibre-optic project remains on schedule to be in operation by the end of the year, he said.

Alcatel Submarine Networks is preparing to lay the submarine cable between Puvirnituq and Chisasibi in the ice-free season of 2021.

“[The project] has not yet been hampered by COVID-19,” Combden said. “By December 2021, we expect that the submarine cable will be in service.”

The bandwidth freed up once the cable is in place should represent about 25 per cent of Tamaani’s total network capacity — satellite capacity that would then be redistributed to other communities.

That will deliver much-needed bandwidth to the rest of the region, which has already reached a saturation point, Combden said.

“We can’t give any more,” he told regional councillors. “We’re giving 100 per cent of what we have to give.”

In the meantime, some internet customers in both Nunavik and Nunavut have begun to pre-order Starlink’s new satellite internet service kits, which is targeting coverage in the eastern Arctic for later this year.

Elon Musk’s ambitious SpaceX project aims to build a constellation of thousands of small satellites to deliver high-speed internet across the world, through the service will first be offered in the U.S. and Canada.

But Combden said Tamaani’s own upgrades and fibre-optic network will likely be in place before Starlink is able to reach potential customers in the region.

“We welcome any other service, but it’s going to be a while yet,” he said. “It won’t be in Nunavik before mid-2022.”

Combden emphasized that he’s not worried that Starlink will take away from Tamaani’s service.

“At the end of the day, they’re bringing more bandwidth to the region, which is positive,” he said.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Tamaani user on

    At this point this sounds to be a positive step. But we’ve seen tamaani make such statements and never pull through. I don’t really get why only 25% bandwidth will be freed up when all the communities mentions that will be hooked up to fibre including Kuujjuaq is 60% of Nunavik population. During starlink testings in the south, they are reaching 50-150 mbps with latency 20-40. And they had recently said they will double to 300 mbps by the end of this year. I’d say go with starlink to to the other communities without fibre.

    • Posted by I agree with you on

      We are paying arm & leg for poor internet services, I feel so sorry for the other communities having very poor slow internet.

      Tamaani internet is becoming money hungry services, imagine whole Nunavik is paying high bills, Tamaani is becoming a fortune!

  2. Posted by need internet stable internet on

    nice to see the fiber but what will be the price, speed and the cap…. so starlink is the way to go we already know there is no cap speed up to 150mb for a price of 120$ so i already preorder mine… with no cap it mean u can pretty much cut your cable and use netflix just save money there, u ca use a ip phone so there again save money.

  3. Posted by All talk and no walk on

    All talk and no walk

    We nunavik communities are still waiting for the promised cell service,
    While kuujjuaq enjoys cell services faster then most communities internet

    As long as the exec’s and directors have it i guess

  4. Posted by LOL on

    “But Combden said Tamaani’s own upgrades and fibre-optic network will likely be in place before Starlink is able to reach potential customers in the region.”




    as stated previously, cell phone is connected since 2015 in 14 communities,…

    Keep dancing to the violin playing,….

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