Ottawa helps broaden the band

“We can certainly use the equipment and training”


The not-for-profit group that’s building Nunavut’s territory-wide broadband Internet service got a much-appreciated financial boost last week, when the federal government gave them $466,027.

Lorraine Thomas, the secretary-treasurer of the Nunavut Broadband Development Corp., said the money is to pay for five projects:

* Extending the reach of the network’s wireless connection to a 20-km radius in all communities, so people can gain access to the Internet while on the land;
* A special three-dimensional application that lets users download satellite pictures and get close-up views of the land from their computers;
* A portable device that lets people use their computers while on the land;
* A VOIP, or “voice over Internet protocol” system so that the NBDC’s community service providers can talk to each other and get technical support over the Internet;
* A workshop where community service providers would meet and talk about how to roll out broadband operations in each community.

At a show-and-tell session put on for Andy Scott, the minister of DIAND, Thomas said her corporation is looking for homegrown, “regionally relevant applications” for Nunavut’s broadband network.

The service, which will offer higher-speed, wireless Internet connections to people living in every Nunavut community, is to start operating later this year.

Users would connect to the Internet through a special wireless modem attached to their computer. The modem would communicate with the Internet through satellite dishes that the NBDC has installed in every community.

Nancy Karetak-Lindell, the MP for Nunavut, said high-speed Internet access will help Nunavummiut develop skills in advanced technologies, take advantage of economic opportunities and provide a new way for people to communicate.

“We can certainly use the equipment and training,” Karetak-Lindell said.

In addition, Ottawa will give $85,542 to the Nunavut Economic Development Association to provide computer equipment, software and training for economic development officers in Nunavut.

All this money comes from a $90 million northern economic development fund that Ottawa announced last December as a goodwill gesture aimed at showing its commitment to the development of a northern strategy.

Other contributions under that fund include:

* $100,000 for community access Internet sites in communities;
* $93,860 for fisheries studies;
* $65,000 for a Nunavut mineral exploration and mining strategy;
* $40,000 for a carving stone study.

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