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Connecting the Unconnected: The Push for Better Internet Access in Nunavut

Efforts Underway to Improve Internet Access in Nunavut. In recent years, the Canadian government has taken significant steps to address the issue of poor internet connectivity in Nunavut, the country’s largest and northernmost territory. Despite being home to over 39,000 people spread across 25 remote communities, Nunavut has struggled with internet access due to a variety of factors, including its isolated location and harsh weather conditions.

However, the government’s recent investments in broadband infrastructure, coupled with ongoing efforts by local organizations and businesses, are helping to improve internet access in the territory. In this article, we’ll explore the current state of internet connectivity in Nunavut, the efforts being made to improve it, and what this means for the people who call this beautiful and remote region home.

Quintillion and CanArctic Inuit Networks Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year to build a subsea fibre optic cable network in the North American Arctic. Initially, they plan to construct a fibre line from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., to Iqaluit.

Madeleine Redfern, chief operating officer of CanArctic, a majority Inuit owned company, said the project is “effectively shovel-ready,” but requires funding. She said the goal is to complete a marine survey this summer, which would allow for construction in 2024.

“The need is immediate,” she said. “Without this type of infrastructure, northerners, especially those in Nunavut, continue to pay the highest internet, telephone and cellphone services.”

Redfern said improved internet access would benefit residents, businesses and the resource sector, as well as support Arctic defence efforts.

“There are so many needs and opportunities that fibre optic cable can bring into our community,” she said.

A recent report on Arctic security and sovereignty by the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence recommended the federal government work with Indigenous-led corporations on subsea fibre optic and other projects to provide increased and affordable internet coverage across the Arctic.

Current State of Internet Connectivity in Nunavut

In 2021, Nunavut was ranked last among all Canadian provinces and territories for internet connectivity. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, only 40% of Nunavut residents have access to internet speeds that meet the government’s minimum standard of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload.

The limited access to high-speed internet has had a profound impact on the lives of Nunavut residents. In addition to making it difficult to stay connected with family and friends, slow internet speeds have hindered business opportunities, education, and access to essential government services, such as healthcare.

Efforts to Improve Internet Access in Nunavut

To address these challenges, the Canadian government has committed $1.75 billion in funding to improve broadband connectivity in underserved communities across the country. Of this funding, $500 million has been allocated specifically for rural and remote areas, such as Nunavut.

In addition to government investment, local organizations and businesses have also been working to improve internet access in Nunavut. One such organization is the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, which operates a fiber-optic network that connects several remote communities in the territory.

What This Means for Nunavut Residents

Improved internet access in Nunavut will have a significant impact on the lives of those who call this remote region home. With faster internet speeds, residents will be better able to stay connected with family and friends, pursue educational opportunities, and access essential government services.

Moreover, improved internet connectivity will create new economic opportunities in the territory. With faster internet, businesses will be better able to participate in e-commerce and expand their reach beyond the territory’s borders. This, in turn, will create new jobs and help to diversify the local economy.

Conclusion

The Canadian government’s investment in broadband infrastructure, coupled with the ongoing efforts of local organizations and businesses, are helping to improve internet access in Nunavut. While there is still much work to be done, the progress made so far is a positive sign for the territory’s residents and its future economic development.

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