Getting the entire region up to speed would certainly take until 2025, says telecommunications consultant
Nunavik will receive $123.9 million for enhanced high-speed Internet services, with funding coming from the federal and Quebec governments and the Kativik regional government.
The funding was announced Tuesday during a virtual press conference with Stéphane Lauzon, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Economic Development, and Ian Lafrenière, Quebec’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
KRG Vice President Lucy Kumarluk and Dan Pellerin, Special Telecommunications Adviser to KRG and Tamani, also discussed the project.
Currently, Internet service provider Tamaani’s fiber network is centered around Nunavik’s lower Hudson Bay communities, including Whapmagoostui, Kuujjuarapik, Umiujaq, Inukjuak, and Puvirnituq. It is connected to Eeyou Communications Network in Chisasibi.
Lafrenière said the money will connect more northern Nunavik communities to the network. He said some will also be used to upgrade internet service in Kuujjuaq and the coast of Ungava Bay.
Lafrenière said he hopes Nunavimmiut can use the internet for essential services online, and at the same speed as people living in the south.
“I saw with my own eyes how important it was in terms of education, in terms of justice and health,” he said, in both English and French.
“I’m sure today’s announcement will really change the quality of life for the people of Nunavik.”
Kumarluk said the upgrade will be welcomed by Nunavimmiut. She said better internet will meet the growing demand for digital services in the region and make it possible for household networks to support the connection of multiple devices.
“The KRG appreciates the confirmed financial support from governments for narrowing the digital divide that separates Nunavik from the rest of Canada,” she said.
“Access to high-speed internet should not be hampered by the remoteness of communities, and we look forward to having equal access for all 14 Nunavik communities one day.”
Gaining equal access in Nunavik will take time. Pellerin said it could take at least three years for that to happen.
He said the Hudson Bay lower coastal communities will be the first to be connected. Next year, work will be done in Akulivik, Ivujivik and Salluit to connect them.
Pending supply issues, work in Kuujjuaq and other communities will begin in 2024.
“In my little dream world, I’d love to have it all done by tomorrow, but that’s not going to happen,” Pellerin said. “We don’t have a specific timeline, but if it could happen in 2025, that would be ideal.”