SSi Canada strikes deal to expand satellite capacity

Nunavut internet provider now working with Luxembourg-based SES Networks

SSi Canada workers are seen, pre-pandemic, at an office in Kanata, Ont., where Nunavut’s Qiniq internet network is managed. (File photo)

By John Thompson

One of Nunavut’s main internet providers says it has struck a deal to obtain more satellite capacity through a new provider.

SSi Canada says the new arrangement means that, for now, its customers don’t need to worry about big price increases or the shutdown of its services. The company had warned in November that it may need to take such actions unless it received more support from the federal government.

SSi announced on Monday, Jan. 18, that it had struck a partnership with SES Networks, a Luxembourg-based company that operates more than 70 geostationary and medium Earth orbit satellites.

“They were able to liberate an existing satellite and point it north,” said Dean Proctor, SSi’s chief development officer. “There’s a whole lot of new capacity available to us.”

This extra satellite capacity means SSi is once again able to sign up new customers. In the fall, it stopped taking on new customers because doing so ran the risk of overwhelming its network, said Proctor.

“We couldn’t start penalizing our existing customers,” he said.

The problem, he said, is caused by a bottleneck created by limited satellite capacity, which has only grown worse as Nunavut residents came to depend on online services for work, school and entertainment during the pandemic.

Proctor likens the company’s capacity to deliver internet services within communities to a firehose, while its ability to send and receive information beyond that, via satellite, is akin to a garden hose.

“The bottleneck is connecting Nunavut communities to the rest of the world. That’s all done by satellite,” he said.

The company says that 67 per cent of Nunavut households outside of Iqaluit connect to the internet via its Qiniq service. The company also provides the SSi Mobile cellular service.

SSi continues to call for more federal support. The last pot of federal money the company received ran out in July 2020. Proctor said that with additional subsidies, “We’ll be able to improve our offerings.”

Nunavut’s senator, Dennis Patterson, among others, has called on the federal government to provide money from its broadband fund more support to the company.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    are you still going to make them take it up the tailpipe for extra gigs?

    Competition was charging $3 to $5 per extra gig if they went over and plans offered were quite reasonable. now Qiniq would offer $80 for 25 GB which in this day and age you could burn through in a couple days if you were updating devices, streaming Netflix, Disney + or other items which shouldn’t be taken for granted because “we live in the Arctic”

      • Posted by There is on

        Free lunches definitely exist, it’s just that usually governments are giving them to corporations. As much as people love to hype up Musk’s new Starlink business venture, his collection of businesses like Tesla and SpaceX get plenty of ‘free lunch’ from governments in the form of subsidies and tax breaks.
        In the same vein, if Canada actually cared about providing good internet quality to its citizens at a subsidised price, it could definitely afford it. But sadly our telecom industry is the worst in the world and things hardly ever change for regular consumers because the current system makes the big companies big profits with minimum investiture in improving services.

  2. Posted by Qiniq still exists? on

    What type of clientele does Qiniq go after?
    Every single Nunavut community now has access to Bell LTE internet or NWTel ($75 for 50 GB or $130 for 100 GB), both which offer faster speeds and better rates than Qiniq or Xplornet. Either way one can only assume StarLink will be available soon enough, and that will be the end-all for the competition.
    So the question begs to be answered: who in their right mind would still be paying SSi/Qiniq knowing that there are better options available for a lower rate?

  3. Posted by Jimmy on

    We can’t make vaccines in this country and now we’re paying the price for that. Does it make sense to put critical infrastructure in the hands of a foreign country? We can’t launch our own satellites? You know, kind of like India and North Korea does?
    We Canadians are certainly slow learners.

  4. Posted by Word on the tundra on

    Nunatsiaq, when are you going to report on the fire in Igloolik? The COOP building has been burning since last night and seems to be destroyed. Pretty big story here.

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