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Council slaps down internet application

Rankin Inlet hamlet not in mood to endorse private business
Coun. Chris Eccles, the newest member of Rankin Inlet Council, wasn’t eager to lend the hamlet’s name to support a business’s application for federal internet funding. Stewart Burnett/NNSL file photo

What would often be a routine endorsement was slapped down by Rankin Inlet council at their meeting April 24.

Doug Harvey, vice-president of Galaxy Broadband, had requested support from the Hamlet of Rankin Inlet for his company’s application for CRTC Universal Broadband Fund money to help launch a service called INUKNET that would provide internet to businesses across Nunavut.

“Galaxy is forming a partnership with an Inuit company to create INUKNET that will be a (sic) Inuit majority owned company headquartered in Iqaluit but will be servicing all 25 communities,” wrote Harvey in a letter to Darren Flynn, senior administrative officer for the hamlet.

The letter goes on to talk about how INUKNET would use a combination of GEO and LEO satellites to provide internet for businesses, and how Galaxy is seeking federal funding to subsidize the cost of residential internet service for Iqaluit and all Nunavut communities.

“We would appreciate your support with this very important effort for affordable internet access,” wrote Harvey to Flynn. “Could we receive the signed letter back after your meeting?”

Coun. Megan Pizzo-Lyall was the first to express uncertainty about supporting Galaxy’s application.

“I don’t know why I feel hesitant to place our hamlet’s support on an individual company’s application,” she said, adding that she supports improved Internet services for Rankin Inlet.

“In the big picture, we want to go fibre, because no matter what kind of satellite – really high or really low – as long as the cloud comes by, we’re going to be impacted by that.”

Coun. Michael Shouldice expressed a similar notion.

“I read it (the letter) and I thought, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said, echoing Pizzo-Lyall’s skepticism about this company actually providing anything new or reducing any costs.

“To me it was, you know, yeah I could support it but I’m honestly not excited,” said Shouldice.

Coun. Patrick Tagoona said fibre could be a long ways off.

“I think the more alternatives we have, the better,” he said.

Coun. Chris Eccles also wasn’t impressed.

“They talk about an Inuk partnership but they don’t give you any details,” he said. “They give you a little letter that they gave to us but they don’t make the effort to come here.”

He suggested holding back endorsement, as it appeared to him the company was just sending the letter around to different hamlets to get as many signatures as possible to apply for federal funding.

Council proceeded to vote down a motion to sign the letter of support.