Iqaluit struggling with data outages because it's raining, Northwestel says

Iqaluit has been experiencing periodic cellphone and internet outages over the last two weeks because it’s raining, Northwestel said. 

Northwestel says it’s working on its system

In case of outages during emergencies, recommends trying to get through to somebody using a text message or app, send a friend or neighbour to the fire hall, or even stop traffic for help. (David Gunn/CBC)

Iqaluit has been experiencing periodic cellphone and internet outages over the last two weeks because it's raining, according to Northwestel.

The phone and internet company switched from a satellite that operated within the C-band frequency range to a satellite within the frequency range of the Ka-band last year. 

This allowed the company to triple internet speeds previously available in the city, but it is still working on the network design and infrastructure, according to an emailed statement. 

The adjustments are happening at the satellite terminal point in Southern Canada and the local dishes. 

While Northwestel is working on this, it says there will continue to be short outages.

"This optimization includes continued adjustments and investments in local Earth stations and the satellite terminal point in Southern Canada to amplify the signal and mitigate short-term disruptions during rain events," the statement said. 

Northwestel did not give any details on when or how the problem will be fixed. Bell and Telesat, which operates the satellite, deferred to Northwestel's statement. 

Making an emergency call 

Iqaluit's fire department shares space with city hall. It's beside the Aquatics Centre. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

In case of an emergency when cell service is out, the Iqaluit fire department has a few recommendations. 

First it suggests having the following details ready in case the call drops:

  • Address (first),
  • Fire or ambulance (which service is the call for)
  • Call-back number (in case emergency responders need more information)
  • What is happening (reason for the call)

If the call isn't going through, text or use a social app to message a friend as it may go through during spotty service, when a call will not. 

Landlines will continue to work with the current outages, so know where the closest one is. 

If cellphones and landlines are not working, the fire department recommends sending someone — such as a neighbour — to the fire hall, or stop traffic to ask for help. 

In the event that cellphones can only call other cellphones, emergency dispatch uses the cellphone number 867-222-5073.


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