High res video in the High Arctic? Unlimited internet could be coming north

If an application by Northwestel is successful, residents in the North could soon have the option for unlimited internet.

The company has submitted an application to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission’s Broadband Fund.

It proposes to bring download speeds of 50 megabits per second (and 10 mbps upload speeds), along with unlimited data, to every community in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

“We believe that distance shouldn’t be a limiting factor to northern Canadians and that’s why Northwestel is putting forward this vision of bringing high-speed internet to every community in the North,” said Andrew Pothier, vice president of engineering networks with Northwestel. 

Andrew Pothier with Northwestel says the company will be investing in new technologies that require funding approval from the CRTC. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

Pothier said Northwestel will be investing in new technologies that require funding approval from the CRTC.

If Northwestel’s bid is successful, he says rural communities would pay similar prices for broadband packages as larger urban centres in the North.

The CRTC’s five year, $750 million Broadband Fund is an attempt to supply all Canadians with an internet speed of 50 mbps. Most rural communities average about 15 mbps. 

“The biggest thing consumers will notice if you are streaming videos, they will come in much quicker than they are used to,” said Pothier. 

“For a lot of people, it’s when you have two or three or four devices, kids are doing something and you are doing something and all at the same time — there will be a huge improvement in speed.”

There are currently 32 communities in the North that rely on satellite internet service.

Other rural areas have fibre line to the community but not to individual homes. Northwestel plans to bring fibre to each home, often referred to as “the last mile.”  

As part of Northwestel’s application, it plans to partner with Telesat, a satellite communications company.

Telesat plans to deliver high speed internet to those communities using low earth orbit technology. 

Read more at CBC.ca