Nunavut-wide broadband in one year?
Development Corp. hopes to bring broadband everywhere in one year
The Nunavut Broadband Development Corp. believes that every resident of Nunavut could have affordable access to broadband Internet by the fall of next year.
“By the time we have our annual general meeting next fall, we hope to be in every community,” said Lorraine Thomas, the corporation’s project manager.
The Nunavut Broadband Development Corp. is a not-for-profit entity set up to provide high-speed Internet access to all 25 Nunavut communities.
Earlier this month, the corporation won a $3.88-million grant from Industry Canada to start installing broadband equipment in each community.
But there’s a catch. The money must be spent by March 2005.
“So if we don’t get it purchased and rolled out next year, the funding will lapse. We have a very aggressive roll-out plan,” Thomas said.
The corporation hopes to receive another $3.5 million by next March from Industry Canada to provide the rest of the $7.3 million it needs to finish the broadband network.
If that happens, they’ll start shipping necessary equipment to communities during next summer’s sealift.
The cost per community is relatively low – about $300,000.
That’s because they’ve opted for a wireless networking system to deliver high-speed access to to individual users in each community.
“It’s the most efficient, least expensive, most reliable method for the small communities,” Thomas said.
“It’s not as complex as doing cable or ADSL [via telephone] in each community. Once you get the ground station in, it’s just wireless communication.”
End users in each community would be connected to the Internet via equipment that communicates with a wireless broadcasting device.
Last May, the corporation awarded a contract to perform the work to SSI Micro of Yellowknife and its three partners in Nunavut: Polarnet, Sakku Arctic Technologies and Nunanet Communications.
Sanny Internet Services will install the system in Sanikiluaq.
Thomas said the broadband corporation is hoping to find a business in each community to act as an ISP to distribute the service locally.
And, theoretically, more than one service provider can plug into the “point of presence” if they want to offer a different kind of Internet service, via cable or ADSL.
“They can do it at the same rate as the wireless distributor. It’s part of the whole economic stimulation at the local level. That’s a condition of the Industry Canada funding,” Thomas said.
After it’s built, Thomas hopes the system can be financially self-sustaining in five years, financed by subscription fees paid by customers ranging from residential consumers to a variety of local organizations, including hamlets and Arctic College learning centres.
“There won’t be any cash required to keep it going, and it will be a completely self-sustaining business,” Thomas said.