Iqaluit is going to get a data centre, thanks to the arrival of faster internet

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has partnered with a local not-for-profit, Nuvujaq, to build an Iqaluit-based data hub.

Local businesses would be directly connected instead of through satellite signals

Some Island communities say they won't be waiting around for the chance to take advantage of new government funding, aimed at boosting internet speeds in rural areas of P.E.I. (Chinnapong/Shutterstock)

Nunavut's capital city is preparing to build a data hub, as a new higher-speed broadband network is set to arrive to the community in October.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has partnered with local not-for-profit, Nuvujaq, to build an Iqaluit-based data hub.

An internet exchange point (a physical access point for internet traffic) will be housed in a data centre — which is a bank of servers. It will connect businesses and governments to each other.

For example, currently, if someone with the territorial government tries to access a video on the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation's Youtube channel, that request is routed via satellite.

The request signal leaves the city, connects with an exchange point in a southern city, and then comes back — and there's a lag. 

This is a representation of how networks in Iqaluit are currently connected over satellite internet. (Submitted by Alison Gareau)
This diagram shows how the city could be connected with an internet exchange point. (Submitted by Alison Gareau)

CIRA wants to cut the satellite out of the local traffic equation by building a cache of local, frequently used data. That would include system updates from Microsoft, Apple and Android.

Building data centre in Iqaluit

Nuvujaq is now searching for a space for the servers, according to CIRA's chief technology and security officer Jacques Latour.​

Jacques Latour is the chief technology and security officer at the Canadian internet registration authority. (Submitted by Alison Gareau)

He said the internet exchange point may run as soon as 2019, because the cost associated with building the cache has dropped.

"The news from Northwestel — that they're upgrading, they're adding more capacity on the satellite connection — is good news, because it's going to make it less expensive for the internet exchange point to load the cache," Latour said.

Fibre connection needed

To access the cache, the city would need to be connected to it via fibre optic line — which it doesn't have.

Latour said installing the fibre line would be a simple process as it can be run along the city's existing telephone pole network.

A local business, like an internet service provider, would likely take that project on, said Latour.

He said CIRA held a community consultation on the project in August in Iqaluit and the 20 or so attendees, including SSi Micro, Northwestel and Telesat were in favour of the idea.

SSi Micro's chief development officer Dean Proctor said they've been in talks with CIRA since last year.