Bell’s subsidiary Northwestel wants to build a fibre line under Great Slave Lake so it can resolve future issues regarding outages that Yellowknife residents recently experienced.
Residents were hit with major disruptions to internet, TV and home phone services during the summer. A second disruption affected internet services when a fibre line was cut.
The CBC reported that Northwestel will commit $5.5 million CAD to the pricey $25 million fibre line project. The carrier has committed to implementing these improvements within the next three years.
Paul Gillard, Northwestel’s vice-president of business markets, indicated that the line will run along the bottom of the lake between Dettah and Fort Resolution.
It would then connect from a line in Fort Resolution that runs through Fort Smith, Hay River, and Fort Providence.
The CBC said that the new line will create a “redundancy loop — a backup, secondary fibre line to keep service running even if something happens to the first line.”
Outages have cost the local economy close to $10 million, according to estimations by the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce.
Gillard added that it intends to split the project’s $3 million startup cost with funding from the territorial government. It then intends to spend $4 million on phase two, and then will work with the government in the territory to get aid from the federal government for the remaining $18 million.
“We’re very confident of being able to secure federal government money for the rest of it,” he said.
It is worth adding though that this line would increase the cost of bills for customers.
While this plan has been announced, the carrier has also filed for an unlimited broadband proposal to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
The application is to offer unlimited internet services.
“Right now it’s going to be an option for unlimited, so you sign up for your package, if you want unlimited on top of your package, give me an extra $50 is where we’re at right now,” Gillard said, as reported by the CBC.
There is no time frame yet as to when these unlimited internet packages will be available.
According to a press release from the company, Northwestel plans to invest in technologies including fibre-to-the-home and Telesat’s Low Earth Orbit.