Nunavik gets $53M to expand its fibre optic network
CRTC money will extend network to 5 additional communities
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.