Inuit-owned telecom company launches in Nunavut
InukNet plans to expand to all 25 communities, with no data caps
There's a new telecommunications company in Nunavut that has plans to offer commercial services to all 25 communities.
Called InukNet, it's owned by the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation and run through Galaxy Broadband and PanArctic Inuit Communications. The three companies announced the new service at the Nunavut Mining Symposium in Iqaluit on Thursday.
Harry Flaherty, Qikiqtaaluk's Corp.'s president and CEO, said the companies have been working on the new service for the last five years.
"InukNet will provide the northern territories with state-of-the-art internet service made possible by advances in satellite technology," Flaherty said.
The service is starting out in Iqaluit, but plans to expand to all of Nunavut's communities by the end of 2023 and to other northern communities in 2024.
It will not include data caps or overage fees.
So far, it has been installed in Iqaluit at the Aqsarniit Hotel, also owned by Qikiqtaaluk Corp., the RCMP headquarters and Nunavut Arctic College.
Satellite antennas and other equipment will soon be installed in each Nunavut community.
Rick Hodgkinson, the CEO of Galaxy Broadband, said they are also applying for funding through the Universal Broadband Fund with the federal government to bring in residential services as well.
"We just don't have enough capacity to do the residential business in larger centres," Hodgkinson said.
"Until we get the government funding we can't do that," he added.
Hodgkinson also said Galaxy Broadband, which mainly serves mines in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, is expanding now because it's connected to low Earth orbit satellites, which orbit closer to the planet and offer fast and more robust connections.
'Everything responds quicker and snappier. You can realize better performance," Hodgkinson said.
"So it's overall it's just a better-performing service, closer to a fibre-type experience."
Business packages for InukNet start at $890 per month and vary depending on speed.
'Fibre optic is not coming soon'
Nunavut, which is the only province or territory without access to fibre internet, is supposed to be connected to fibre by 2025. The Government of Nunavut plans to connect Iqaluit to fibre in Newfoundland through an undersea cable.
The territory's Kivalliq region is also supposed to see a fibre connection through the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link running north from Manitoba in 2030.
Flaherty said he doesn't expect that to happen soon.
"Fibre optic is not coming soon," he said. "In the meanwhile businesses and organizations still have to continue."
"We have to look at the best solutions that are available out here," he said.
Flaherty also said InukNet will hire technicians locally in all communities.
"So when there is installation or services required, we want to ensure that we do have a person in that community instead of flying people in," he said.
The company also plans to have a data centre in Iqaluit, and it plans to start offering services in the next few weeks.