Nunavut fibre optic plans face new delays

Territory now aiming to bring high-speed internet to Iqaluit, Kimmirut and Kinngait by 2025

This CanArctic Inuit Networks image shows the fibre optic cable route proposed by its SednaLink project, which hopes to bring high-speed internet to Iqaluit by 2024. The Government of Nunavut has its own plans to connect Iqaluit, Kimmirut and Kinngait to fibre optic cable by 2025. (Photo courtesy of CanArctic Inuit Networks)

By David Lochead

The Government of Nunavut’s plans to bring high-speed fibre optic internet to Iqaluit, Kimmirut and Kinngait is facing further delays.

The project is now expected to finish in 2025, Paul Currie, the spokesperson for the Community and Government Services Department, said in an email.

The project’s cost, originally put at $209 million, is also expected to increase due to inflation and supply chain delays, Currie said – but by how much remains unclear.

Last September, Nunavut’s deputy minister of finance, Dan Carlson, said in the legislature the goal was to have the fibre optic cable project ready by the spring of 2024.

The Nunavut government initially planned to award the design and construction work for the project by the end of 2021. That deadline has been pushed back to this summer, because the details of the fibre optic cable route are still being worked out, Currie said.

The project originally involved running a fibre optic cable from Greenland to Iqaluit. But in early 2021, the territory decided instead to connect the capital to fibre optic cable along the Nunavik coast.

While Nunavummiut have access to internet packages using satellites that offer speeds of 15 megabits per second, fibre optic speeds in southern Canada can exceed 100 megabits per second.

There’s also a competing plan to connect Nunavut’s capital to fibre optic cable being pursued by CanArctic Inuit Networks, which wants to bring high-speed internet to Iqaluit by 2024 through its SednaLink project, said the company’s chief operating officer, Madeleine Redfern.

In early 2021, CanArctic’s aimed to have fibre optic cables reach Nunavut by the end of 2022, but that depended on federal funding the company did not get.

CanArctic’s new goal for its first phase of fibre optic internet is to run cable from Goose Bay in Labrador to Iqaluit, Redfern said. The company originally planned to connect Iqaluit to Clarenville, Newfoundland.

CanArctic signed a memorandum of understanding with Bulk Fiber Networks in the fall of 2021. Both companies will share the cable attached to Goose Bay, with Bulk Fibre’s cable extending to Norway.

Connecting Iqaluit to Goose Bay, rather than Clarenville, will save 500 kilometres in cable, Redfern said.

Redfern said the current cost to the project is $94 million but that is expected to drop due to the new, shorter route.

“Our goal is to bring the most affordable internet into the regions and communities that will be connected to our network,” she said.

Redfern said she’s hopeful the company will succeed in finding investors to back its project. She said they’ve received interest from an Indigenous investment corporation and an Indigenous organization.

Depending on what money comes in, CanArctic will revise its request for funding from the federal government, Redfern said.

After the reaching Iqaluit in 2024 the second phase would be to extend to the east of Baffin Island and High Arctic, Redfern said. She added the timeline for that extension and others in the territory will depend on community consultations.

To improve Nunavut’s internet gap with the rest of Canada, fibre optic cable is the best option, Redfern said.

“Nothing beats fibre.”

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(36) Comments:

  1. Posted by Summary on

    Give me money. Lots of money.
    I will pay someone else to build a fibre network, then charge you to use it and charge you more to repair it.

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  2. Posted by Think About It on

    Nunavut severely lacks critical infrastructure like proper water treatment plants and affordable housing, but on the bright side our youth will be to stream TikTok videos.
    With the end cost probably close to 1/2 a BILLION dollars, when this is done, Nunavut again will be requesting money for much needed, (required) infrastructure. The GN needs to look at LEOs and put the savings into required projects.

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    • Posted by Clown Car on

      That you’ve pretended the only benefit to vastly improved internet speeds is about TicTok videos shows how reductive and un-serious this comment is.

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    • Posted by Tom Shelby on

      You have no idea how it all works do you when it comes to dishing our money, your comment and thinking is why Nunavut is where its at today. Of course good drinking water is vital and housing is a must, but what that has to do with internet is a mystery, duh, think before you speak.

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      • Posted by Think About It on

        Welcome to Nunavut Tom Shelby, I can only guess from your response that you have never been here or if you have you have no understanding of how projects work.
        Every year the GN receives its allotment of money from the Feds (1.2 -1.5 Billion). Every year the GN meets to decide where this 1+ Billion, this much to operations, so much to capital spending. The capital spending pot is were money comes from for water treatments new housing, and yes internet projects. The GN has only so many dollars to commit to new capital projects, and if they spend close to 1/2 billion dollars on this Fiber Project there will be a great deal less for programs/wages/housing and yes water treatment plants.

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        • Posted by Tom Shelby on

          Hahha thanks but I have been here for years and thanks for clarifying in your comment what I meant above about how it all works. Again what does drinking water have to do with internet? Nunavut will stay in the dark ages without faster internet, if you worked on a computer up here in the north, then you would know what I mean. Just go to Apex and see how your phone or computer works.

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  3. Posted by Darren on

    OR approach Starlink, get a deal done like similar First Nations communities in Northern Ontario AND WE WOULD ALL HAVE HIGH SPEED INTERNET by the end of the year.

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  4. Posted by Matt Quinangnaq on

    If they (Iqaluit and 2 the other community) do get it would the other communities also have that internet services just an opinion.

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    • Posted by anon on

      Possibly, but in the meantime a huge chunk of bandwidth could be freed up for the communities outside south Baffin that would still need satellite access.

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    • Posted by Tom Shelby on

      Of course, the whole Territory would have lightning speed internet, imagine there is about 40,000 people across the Territory that would be using internet, that’s a small City in the South but the difference is, the link from the South would be ours and we would be the only ones on the link, so the speed would be amazing. Just 1 of many examples of how better internet would be beneficial: Internet conferencing would be perfect for everyone including the GN and FEDS. Saves time and saves money, no need to fly everywhere.

  5. Posted by still here on

    Stop saying it will happen, no one believes this, everyone living in the north has heard all these promises before, and nothing has ever materialized. Just a boondoggle to take money from the government of nunavut eventually, GO STARLINK GO!

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    • Posted by Cable man on

      Many peoples in Nunavik said the same thing some years ago. Some communities are already connected with a seabed fiber as Kuujjuarapik. The signal comes from Chisasibi Qc, next summer they will be back, the goal is Salluit by feeding every communitie on the route to the North. I’m sure the fiber will be in Nunavut especially in Iqaluit before Elon Musk.

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      • Posted by lol on

        RemindME! 1 year “Did Elon come to Nunavut before fibre?”

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    • Posted by Unik on

      I dunno. 6 years ago we were still getting a max of 10gb per month and ridiculously low speeds where even watching a youtube video was near impossible,

      With how it’s improved in the past few years I tend to believe it will get even better by 2025.

      Then again. I’m also very excited about Starlink.

  6. Posted by Mark Nookiguak on

    Why Only Iqaluit Kimmirut and Kinngait? Summali the Whole Baffin Island?. The fast internet would be nice but the whole Baffin Communities need fast internet too as well. Baffin Island needs fast internet as well

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    • Posted by Uvanga on

      all the youth will be moving to the three communities to do their tik toks now

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      • Posted by Tom Shelby on

        Don’t lie, you are on Tik Tok too LOL

    • Posted by Unik on

      Because geographically it makes sense to connect your biggest spots first.

      There may be projects later on to communicate smaller communities to Iqaluit, but you they should still get faster speeds just by having the Iqaluit population on a different network and freeing up the current Satellite bandwidth.

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  7. Posted by Space bar on

    So, there will mostly likely be a colony on Mars before high speed in most NU communities. Way to go

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    • Posted by MARS on

      I can confirm this. We also have high speed internet already.

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      • Posted by Colin Gunn on

        Hahahahaha and haha…. High speed prices at dial up speed…

  8. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Costs for Starlink 94 million = 200 homes?

    Costs for Fibre-Optic 207 million = 400 homes?

    I have to question if high-speed internet is important to Nunavut?

    Think the politicians and bureaucrats have my neighbour’s interest at heart? I think not.

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    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      I don’t understand the thumbs down and would appreciate someone telling me WHY?
      Why do 19 of you see fiber optic costs of about 200 million more important than housing?
      Has housing needs in Nunavut dropped?
      Someone, please explain.

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  9. Posted by Northener on

    I’ve been in iqaluit 31 years and it’s the same old topic. I’ll believe it when i see it

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  10. Posted by Starlink on

    At this point, if we want to truly bring high-speed unlimited internet to the masses, I feel the Government should get in talks with starlink to establish ground stations. Once their satellite constellation reaches Nunavut, we will be ready to utilize them.

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    • Posted by Flairs on

      I wonder how long their satellites will stay in low orbit with all the solar flair’s? Northern lights,
      They just recently lost 40 satellites due to a solar storm, what is the lifespan for these satellites?
      I would prefer fibre rover satellites.

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  11. Posted by Blazing star on

    Ahh man wow sooo. Not so fascinating at all since I Do not live there or any other place mentioned. But I’ve been waiting for Starlink for a year and a half now. But fuak all they change the Dang Date from. 2022 to 2023 now. And I’ll be bloody waiting and other fkn year of just ordering games to keep myself busy until they bloody fix there Damn sats. And I’ll be pretty bloody Disappointed if I die to COVID before they finally come

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  12. Posted by you guessed it on

    scammers are good, wasn’t this purposed years ago, for the whole territory of Nunavut?

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  13. Posted by Thirsty on

    That money would fix a lot of drinking water problems, and infrastructure and the fibre would still not be completed. Starlink and Onewebb will be up and running long before any of these fibre sources ever get here. At least it will be good for redundancy, until its first cut.

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    • Posted by Tom Shelby on

      Here we go again LOL drinking water over fibre op

  14. Posted by Surfer on

    I don’t understand why we don’t connect with Greenland, they’ve had fibre since 2009 and are connected from Canada through Newfoundland and also a second connection through Europe.
    The cable between Greenland and southern Baffin is about 500 kilometres away, I know any major project from the GN takes a long time to get started but man, this is pathetic.

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    • Posted by Surfing on

      You are correct, you don’t understand. Before typing, check your knowledge and if you have a lack of understanding about decision making, like you mentioned, look into seabed studies, sea mammal and fish population, as well as existing cabling structures, fishing industry, etc.

      Just because a decisions doesn’t seem clear or logically supported, the article just gives you the picture Nunatsiaq is wanting to give you. Ask for all the justifications from CGS

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  15. Posted by Daaniallie on

    For us in Northern Quebec the fibre optics isn’t going fast. It got slower and disconnection when there is blizzard. They said 3 communities were going to speed up in December and they also said the cellular phone were going to work too. Never happened, still slow and no cellular phone yet too. Fibre optic is slower than the modems for internet. The owner of fibre optics is just getting the money and not speeding up the internet. Waste of money.

  16. Posted by Daaniallie on

    For us in Northern Quebec the fibre optics isn’t going fast. It got slower and disconnection when there is blizzard. They said 3 communities were going to speed up in December and they also said the cellular phone were going to work too. Never happened, still slow and no cellular phone yet too. Fibre optic is slower than the modems for internet. The owner of fibre optics is just getting the money and not speeding up the internet. Waste of money.
    They also said, that we will be able to have connections too on all around the town. It has shorter range than the modem. They can only go one quarter of the one block.

    • Posted by Daaniallie on

      Our corporation spent over 100 million dollars for this.

    • Posted by Tech-Ed on

      This is why getting a fibre optic connection built is not like buying a washing machine off the shelf and having it installed.

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