Feds come through with $150 million for Iqaluit, Kimmirut fibre optic plan

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Thanks to $150 million in funding announced by the federal government Monday morning in Iqaluit, 3,215 households in Iqaluit and Kimmirut should have access to high-speed internet via fibre optic cable by 2023.

Nunavut’s Minister of Community and Government Services Lorne Kusugak said the announcement the morning of Aug. 19 of $151 million for a fibre optic project linking Iqaluit and Kimmirut to the south via Nuuk, Greenland, is significant.
Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

The Government of Nunavut is pitching in $30 million for the project, which will provide a speed of 1 Gb per second.

“Investing in infrastructure increases the quality of life of residents and offers employment to people working in construction. It’s good for our economy and it’s good for Nunavut,” said Minister of Rural Economic Development Bernadette Jordan.

“This project will see the installation of approximately 1,700 kilometres of submarine fibre optic cable from Nuuk, Greenland, to Iqaluit through the Davis Strait.”

Jordan explained that cable would then branch to Kimmirut.

She called high-speed internet a necessity, “making on-line learning a real possibility for residents of these communities, as well as smoothly-running businesses, and staying in touch with family and friends.”

High-speed internet also aids in the health sector, with remote diagnoses and support for health-care workers, diminishing the stress and costs of medical travel, said Jordan.

“Communities that will not have access to the fibre-optic cable will benefit from the reduced usage of the satellite band, thereby providing faster internet, as well,” said Jordan.

Nunavut’s Minister of Community and Government Services Lorne Kusugak said details on how access to residents, businesses, schools and government offices would be provided would be worked out with providers over time.

“The announcement today is significant,” he said.

“Nunavut needs significant improvement on broadband connectivity to enhance services, such as healthcare, education, justice and the list goes on and on and on.”

Kusugak said his department would continue to seek other opportunities for funding to connect other communities to the south.

Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada solely connected through satellite, and Kusugak said the goal is to connect as many communities as possible by fibre optic in the coming years.