Northwestel, SSi get federal funding boost

$6.9 million to go towards improving internet connectivity and affordability

Northwestel home internet customers in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay and Arviat will see their bill go down by $20 a month. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Northwestel internet customers in several Nunavut communities will see lower monthly bills and higher data limits, thanks to a recent federal funding announcement.

The territory’s other major internet provider, SSi Micro, says that improved offerings are also coming soon to its customers too.

The federal government has committed $6.9 million to two projects aimed at improving internet connectivity and affordability for Nunavummiut.

Of that funding, $1.9 million will go to Northwestel, with the remaining $4.9 million going towards SSi Micro.

“[This] investment will improve internet capacity and affordability for the existing high-speed internet service of over 9,800 households in all 25 Nunavut communities,” said Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal during a news teleconference last week.

Northwestel Katittuq internet plan customers in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay and Arviat will see their bill go down by $20 a month and the average business customer will see their monthly recurring charge decreased by $40 a month or more, Northwestel’s vice-president of business markets, Paul Gillard, said during the news conference.

Both of those billing changes are retroactive to May 1, Gillard added.

Increased monthly data usage limits have also been increased for those customers and were effective as of May 28.

For SSi’s Qiniq customers, monthly data limits will also be increased and become more affordable, said Dean Proctor, chief development officer of SSi Canada, though specifics were not yet available.

The federal government’s $2.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund, announced in November, aims to connect 98 per cent of Canadians to high-speed internet by 2026 and achieve the national target of 100 per cent connectivity by 2030.

That funding and connectivity couldn’t come fast enough for satellite-dependent providers in Nunavik and Nunavut who have said they’re almost maxed out on capacity, while access to a high-speed network has become more pressing than ever in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Providers such as SSi Micro and Northwestel looked specifically for help from a $150 million Rapid Response Stream fund dedicated to boosting capacity as quickly as possible.

Last week’s funding announcement comes from that fund, though longer-term solutions, such as fibre connections, are also in the works as part of the Universal Broadband Fund.

“This is a platform to keep building from,” Proctor said.

“There’s still much more work to be done.”

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(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by Other communities on

    In the past few months, Nunavut’s major hubs (Iqaluit, Rankin, Cambridge), including Arviat, had their monthly bill go down while doubling the monthly cap to 200GB.
    I hope similar relief will come to us customers who don’t live in the hubs.

  2. Posted by Becka on

    Will the fibre include fibre cable tv?

  3. Posted by Laughing matter on

    6.9 million and we save a WHOPPING $20.00. That’s huge savings man! 😅 tell me what internet providers work up North with pricing and I’ll go with the lowest.

    • Posted by Correct on

      That’s how it works, when you divide that by the population or customers, it’s the same when people think about the RIAs and NTI and royalties, people holding out their hand would get a couple dollars divided between them, would be gone in no time.
      Have to look at the bigger picture.

  4. Posted by Unethical on

    Why am I and every other internet purchaser of NWTel in Iqaluit forced to pay $30 for a land-line just for the privilege of high speed internet?

  5. Posted by Inuktituusuu on

    The internet will still go down after some light overcast weather.

  6. Posted by All those savingz on

    Great…. Now get rid of that stupid $40 per month for that mandatory phone line that almost no one wants.
    And by the way, it’s snowing again. You should send someone to clean off the satellite dishes again.

    • Posted by Generous NWTEL on

      Oh, don’t worry. That’ll be here by the end of next year, around the same time as Starlink and OneWeb are here to offer some actual competition.

      Expect faster speeds, higher data caps, and cheaper pricing too! All out of the goodness of NWTel’s hearts. Just a coincidence that it happens around the same time.

  7. Posted by Truestory on

    Go L.T.E., lots of competition. Lots of savings and more gb, awesome speed depending which you choose. GOOGLE it.

    • Posted by S on

      LTE is Bell / Northwestel. The service sucks. Offering more data to more people for a lower fee will just erode the current poor service.

      $1.9M is a blatant, silly and useless subsidy to Bell to sustain poor product. Bell (NWTel) is taking our taxes and subscription dollars and giving those to its shareholders.

      Looking forward to real competition soon so I can get rid of the Bell / NWTel service

      SSI is far superior to Bell – in the outlying communities where it is available. Maybe SSI will use its pittance to bring capacity to Iqaluit

      • Posted by Truestory on

        If you know how to use “Google” and type in “L.T.E.” providers, they’ll give you a page full of advertisements for the said topic. Bell or Northwestel are not the only internet or L.T.E. providers.

  8. Posted by still here on

    My experience with the internet in the north since 2002 has shown me that funding does not increase affordability or more reliable internet, I would suggest that when starlink is set up for Iqaluit by Elon Musk, which is not to far away, all internet providers in the north will dramatically lower the cost and increase usage amounts, lets be honest with ourselves please, the internet companies in the north only care about there personal revenue and never pass affordability or more reliability to the consumer, experience has shown this.

  9. Posted by Manapik on

    With all the money granted hope my phone works and no more static

  10. Posted by Northern Guy on

    So $6.9 mil gets us $20 off our bill and slight jump in data that accounts for about $250k so where’s the other $6.6 mil going? Starlink just announced the launch of several Northern/polar satellites. They can get up soon enough!

    • Posted by Hi-qaluit on

      Please read the article again. You most certainly did not understand what was written.

  11. Posted by pissed off on

    since the middle of the 90s how much money has SSI and The other provided sucked from the Federal Government ?

    Someone should try to track it down .

    The Feds have been very generous and adamant to have a decent service available to the Northern people.

    Was it really well spent by the providers?
    It seems like it is a never ending money pit without much serious accounting .


    • Posted by Workhorse on

      You would be shocked at how expensive satellite capacity is. That’s where most of the money goes, I would expect.
      The LEO networks might change things

      • Posted by Collector on

        Who owns the satellite and making all the money?

        • Posted by Inuktituusuu on

          Feds own the satellite. The majority of the bandwidth on it is used up by sun media corp.

  12. Posted by Island bear on

    So wheres all that money going? Should have a detailed inventory of what and where they use that money.
    I quit paying internet because a game update and system update would just eat up gigs and I’m not an idiot that will pay out the ass just to update games.
    What’s qiniqs upgrade plans? Why didnt they mention it?

  13. Posted by Fibre on

    All the years of NorthwesTel receiving millions and millions from the feds it could of been used for fibre instead long ago.
    How much has NorthwesTel received to date, 4-500 million?

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