SSi Micro partners with Rogers, says it'll improve cell, internet service across North

Northern company will use the telecom giant's unused wireless spectrum in the North. Spectrum is radio waves, and what SSi has licensed connects mobile phones to cellphone towers.

Change should make cellphone coverage clearer and higher quality, says SSi

SSi Micro mobile customers in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories will see improvements in their mobile data speeds with this new deal, SSi says. (CBC)

A northern cell and internet provider has struck a deal with Rogers Communications that should improve service in the North.

SSi Micro will use the telecom giant's unused wireless spectrum in the territories. Spectrum is radio waves, and what SSi has licensed connects mobile phones to cellphone towers — in Iqaluit, SSi's tower is on top of the eight-storey apartment building.

Rogers does not have a presence in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories, but it does own spectrum there and it's not using all of it.

As of Tuesday, it has sub-licensed that unused spectrum to SSi Micro. The federal government's Innovation, Science and Economic Development Department has approved the deal.

Dean Proctor, SSi Micro's chief development officer, says SSi customers in Yellowknife should already have noticed a difference in their mobile data and internet.

Dean Proctor is the chief development officer of SSi Micro. (David Gunn/CBC)

"The biggest difference, I would say, is on the usage of your mobile phone, where it would be a clearer signal, higher quality," Proctor said.

In Yellowknife, the improvement will be seen for both SSi's mobile and internet customers. 

In Nunavut, only the mobile customers will see a change for the moment, as the 4G home internet modems — provided by SSi subsidiary Qiniq — are not tuned to use the new block of radio frequency.

Unlike Wi-Fi spectrum, which Proctor says can get clogged up with lots of people using it, mobile data spectrum is proprietary, so only SSi customers will be able to use it.

This chuck of radio frequency will improve what's called last-mile service, which is the connection in the community.

The backbone service, which connects northern communities to the south, is a different story, which the company says it's also working to improve.

With files from Donna McElligott