Internet speeds triple in some communities as Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link comes online

Five N.W.T. communities should have better internet speeds this month now that the southern section of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link is in operation.

Fort Good Hope, Tulita and Wrigley's internet speed has been increased to 15 mbps

Workers install a portion of the Mackenzie Valley fibre optic line during the 2015 construction season.

Five N.W.T. communities should have better internet speeds this month now that the southern section of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link is in operation.

The N.W.T. government announced Tuesday that the southern section of the link was now in operation and that it has signed an agreement with Northern Lights General Partnership to provide high-speed fibre backhaul services for communities in the Mackenzie Valley.

Residents in Fort Good Hope, Tulita, Wrigley, Norman Wells and Fort Simpson can now receive internet through the fibre link. 

Fort Good Hope, Tulita and Wrigley residents will notice the biggest change. Their internet speed has been increased to 15 Mbps from 5 Mbps. Also, they are now able to get a internet package up to 200 GB, the top tier package. Previously the highest internet data package they were able to get with Northwestel was 125 GB. 

"The Mackenzie fibre link coming online and being lit recently has allowed us to triple internet speeds in all of these communities," said Paul Gillard, vice-president of business markets for Northwestel.

Gillard said that residents of the communities should see a saving of just over $7 on their internet bill.

"It's a lower overhead cost for us, and we are passing it on to our customers," said Gillard.

The $82 million project has been under construction for about the last two years. The construction process has caused a number of concerns and several contractors have left the project. 

Sean Craig, a P3 analyst overseeing the project for the N.W.T.'s Department of Finance, says that improving residents' quality of telecommunications was a priority for the government.

"Providing enabling telecommunications infrastructure and improving access, speed and costs were key drivers for the project. We are pleased we have begun achieving these goals."

An agreement with Northwestel to have a temporary high speed connection to the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility (ISSF) and Canada Satellite Ground Station Inuvik, Inc was also made.

"ISSF is an important part of the success of the MVFL. We have had loyal customers in SSC, DLR, NRCan who have supported the MVFL project and supporting the growth of the ISSF. It was important for the GNWT to find a solution during the interim to support them," said Craig.

So far 1,035 km of the total 1,154 km Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link has been completed.

The last 120 km that goes north of Fort Good Hope is expected to be completed by June.


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