Nunavik gets $53M to expand its fibre optic network

CRTC money will extend network to 5 additional communities

A view of some of Tamaani’s infrastructure in Kuujjuaq. The CRTC has announced $53.4 million in funding to help expand Nunavik’s proposed fibre optic network. (Photo by Looee Emataluk)

By Sarah Rogers

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has announced $53.4 million to help expand Nunavik’s proposed fibre optic network to five additional communities.

Under its current plan, the Kativik Regional Government’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 connections to Kuujjuaraapik, Umiujaq and Inukjuak.

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.

Last Friday, the CRTC approved the regional government’s applications for funding for two projects.

The CRTC’s Broadband Fund will allot $36.3 million to extend a new undersea fibre network north from Puvirnituq to four more communities: Akulivik, Ivujivik, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq.

An additional $17.1 million will go to building a terrestrial fibre network from the Naskapi nation of Kawawachickamach to Kuujjuaq, in place of microwave towers.

The Kativik government called the money “a crucial step” towards bringing much-needed bandwidth capacity to the region.

“This decision shows the confidence the CRTC has in the KRG’s ability to deliver high-speed broadband internet service to Nunavik’s remote communities, and it will go a long way towards reducing the digital divide between Nunavik and the rest of Canada,” said KRG chairperson Jennifer Munick in a March 19 release.

Nunavik is still waiting to hear if Quebec will finance the rest of the project.

The KRG estimates that $36.3 million will pay roughly half the cost of extending the undersea fibre optic cable 870 kilometres north of Puvirnituq up the Hudson coast and across the Hudson Strait.

The remaining $17.1 million will pay for about 66 per cent of the 440 kilometre terrestrial link between Kuujjuaq and Kawawachickamach, where the Naskapi community is connected to a fibre optic network in nearby Schefferville, the KRG said.

That project is set to increase capacity by 100 gigabits per second.

“The KRG remains confident the Quebec government will commit the necessary funds to complete these major projects,” the organization said in a release.

“So far, the province has contributed generously towards improving the telecommunication infrastructure in Nunavik and the KRG remains hopeful it will continue to do so in the future.”

In the meantime, the region’s current fibre optic project remains on schedule to be in operation by early 2022.

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

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

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Pete peters on

    With starlink coming soon Tamaani will be left out in the cold. So this is just a waste of Tax payers money! Our government is run by idiots!

    • Posted by Unhatched chickens on

      I’d be careful about thinking Starlink will solve everything and work out well.
      Most of Musk’s projects are failures, businesses that primarily suck up government subsidies, or both.
      If Starlink actually functions as described, it will be an incredible success for Musk and an outlier amongst his companies in that it manages to do what it says it will. At that point, the door would still be open to Starlink siphoning up government subsidies just like the one this article is discussing.
      Hopefully it will help things out, but I would wait till things hatch before you start counting your chickens with Starlink.

      • Posted by on looker on

        Starlink is proving to be a game changer for rural beta users in the south. It’s in the early stages but it has way surpass other rural providers like Xplorenet. They are actually getting up to 300 mbps with latency 20 to 40.
        He created paypal I’m sure you have used. Tesla is another proven success not to mention spaceX. And yes they use subsidies money so they can use it send more satellites, which in turn will benefit people in rural areas like Nunavik and Nunavut.

      • Posted by Pete peters on

        Its already working in rural areas down south. You obviously do not research before you type nonsense. Musk is the richest man in the world for a reason. You ever hear of tesla or SpaceX. He sold PayPal for billions.

  2. Posted by Tamaani user on

    Great news! I hope it happens as told. Tamaani time-line is a little iffy.

  3. Posted by Uvagut on

    That money should be allocated to housing instead. House people first, internet last. You know what the in-between’s are in regards to the communities needs.

  4. Posted by what a money pit on

    Microwave towers connecting Kawawa to Kuujjuaq is such a big waste of money. If one of the towers develops problems, guess what…no Internet service for Kuujjuaq so we’re back to square 1. Fibre optic cables are not impacted by terrestrial interference whereas microwave frame replay towers are slower, have a higher latency and will loose signal in snowstorms and rain storms. Nunavik Rotors will have lots of business bring the techs in to fix the towers. What a royal waste of money. Starlink is getting my business!

  5. Posted by Pete peters on

    Back home in the laurentians starlink is working perfectly. No bs so I dunno what your going on about.

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