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CanArctic Inuit Networks unveils plan to bring fibre-optic internet to Nunavut

CanArctic Inuit Networks revealed details Wednesday of its endeavour to run a 2,104 km, sub-sea fibre optic cable from Clarenville, Nfld. to Iqaluit by late 2022.

The capital cost of the backbone between Clarenville and Iqaluit is pegged at $107 million, according to the company. There will be no requirement for the Government of Nunavut to provide capital investment in this project, a company news release stated.

Future phases of the initiative could extend the network – to be known as SednaLink – to other parts of the Qikiqtani, Kivalliq, Hudson Strait and Nunavik.

“CanArctic Inuit Networks is ready to build this critical piece of Canadian Arctic infrastructure today," says Madeleine Redfern, chief operating officer for the company.
photo courtesy of CanArctic Inuit Networks

The "theoretical capacity" of the CanArctic fibre will be 48 terabits, whereas a satellite spot beam covering Nunavut has a capacity of approximately 10 gigabits, according to CanArctic Inuit Networks.

"This challenging and highly specialized sub-sea fibre deployment is backed by a proven team of sub-sea professionals with proper design, engineering and routing who will ensure project completion on time and on budget ensuring cheaper and more reliable connectivity for Nunavut and Nunatsiavut," CanArctic Inuit Networks, an Inuit-led entity, stated in a news release.

The company pointed to a similar private-sector initiative in Alaska that achieved a reduction in bandwidth charges by more than 60 per cent over three years. CanArctic Inuit Networks says it is aiming to "save Nunavut and Nunatsiavut residents, businesses and governments millions of dollars in internet charges and increase productivity" that will benefit education, health and economic development in the North.

However, CanArctic Inuit Networks will not set retail pricing. It will "provide neutral wholesale bandwidth to existing carriers, potentially enabling consumer pricing parity with fibered communities in Yukon and Northwest Territories."

“CanArctic Inuit Networks is ready to build this critical piece of Canadian Arctic infrastructure today,” stated Madeleine Redfern, the company's chief operating officer.

The goal is to begin burying the nearshore cable conduits by August or September 2021, provided there's cooperation from all levels of government, added CEO Doug Cunningham. The target for completing marine installation is October 2022.

CanArctic Inuit Networks also revealed that it has made an offer to the City of Iqaluit "to purchase the former Iridium satellite station near Apex Bay to serve as its cable landing station and as a carrier-neutral internet exchange."