Rural Economic Development Minister Bernadette Jordan has announced new investments of over $151 million CAD to build a submarine fibre optic cable from Iqaluit to Greenland to boost broadband services in northern Canada.
At a press conference, Jordan said the cable is set to be 1,700 kilometres and will run from Nuuk, Greenland to Iqaluit through the Davies Straight. A press release added that the cable in Iqaluit will have a branch, or a split, to Kimmirut (a community in Nunavut).
Access to a fibre optic network will “reduce both communities’ dependence on satellite communications for internet,” the release said, adding that it will connect up to 3,215 households in Nunavut to high-speed internet services. The Government of Nunavut has committed to $30 million towards the project.
The investment for the project comes from the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream of the government’s infrastructure plan.
Dean Wells, the chief information officer for the Nunavut Government, said in an interview with MobileSyrup that the relationship with Greenland was established in 2007 and a similar line was placed between Milton, Newfoundland and Labrador and the country. The rollout and full functionality of the line did not begin until 2009, he noted.
Wells also explained that at the time the two countries established a relationship and set rates between carriers like Bell and Eastlink to roll out broadband services.
“The other contract was with Newfoundland, and this will be a new separate one with Nunavut,” he said and added that “there are a lot of lessons learned already.”
He also said that because the Nunavut project is in its infancy, a lot of tests still need to take place to ensure proper placement of the cable.
“We will complete an undersea survey that will send ships out and plot out the seabed and find the right path,” he explained, noting that the project probably won’t be fully functional until 2023.
The announcement is in line with Jordan’s Connectivity Strategy, which seeks to connect 100 percent of Canadians to high-speed broadband services by 2030.