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High quality Netflix for the capital
Company hopes to spread streaming service across the territory

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services
Monday, January 9, 2017

Netflix is becoming the go-to for watching series and movies - except in Nunavut, where bandwidth is at a premium.

NNSL photo/graphic

Aterlo Networks' vice-president of product development Dan Siemon, left, chief executive officer Gerrit Nagelhout and chief technology officer Scot Loach have teamed up with local service provider Meshnet to offer Iqaluit residents high-quality Netflix. - photo courtesy of Aterlo Networks

But that's changing now that Iqaluit service provider Meshnet has teamed up with a small company out of Waterloo, Ont. to offer high-quality Netflix streaming capability.

"At Meshnet, we are always developing or researching ways to improve the service that we provide," said chief executive officer David Fulgham. "We use a lot of technologies to use the limited bandwidth available to us in the most efficient ways possible. To this end, we were looking at ways of caching content on our local network, leveraging the much higher local bandwidth for our clients."

Enter Aterlo Networks' software called NightShift.

"During our research, we came across this technology and even though at the time it was more of a consumer end-user product, we devised a way to integrate it into our network."

Netflix streaming accounts for 37 per cent of all North American internet traffic, according to Sandvine Intelligent Broadband Network's 2016 Global Internet Phenomena report for Latin America and North America.

"But the problem that remote communities are facing is they have pretty low capacity and expensive internet connection to the rest of the world where Netflix is served from," said Aterlo's chief technology officer Scot Loach.

"So if there's a bunch of people watching Netflix at the same time, those satellite feeds can get completely saturated and adding more capacity to those can be really, really expensive."

Aterlo's marketing co-ordinator Harneet Singh explains that the software has "predictive" features.

"If someone in the community requests a TV show or movie, it preloads and becomes available for everyone else in the community. For other episodes, the system predicts that people are likely to watch following episodes and it queues that up for preload, as well, thereby making a large library available," he said.

For the community, there's a double benefit.

"Everyone feels that they're getting a better quality Netflix experience without buffering/latency issues," Singh said. "Local serving of content allows more bandwidth to be available for other internet purposes - educational, web surfing, social media."

Fulgham says Meshnet first deployed NightShift last year.

"We have been working to improve its use and will be upgrading our equipment and storage capacity in the coming months," he said. "Having content on the local network allows our clients to access them at speed reaching 20 Mbps and more, which is considerably faster than would be available from the Internet across satellite connections."

Qiniq Classic, for example, was downloading at 1.76 Mbps at this writing.

"Netflix's recommended speed for HD streaming is 3 to 5 Mbps," said Singh.

Meshnet users will not need special hardware, and will not be charged extra, to benefit from NightShift.

To provide a similar service in other Nunavut communities, Aterlo hopes to create partnerships with other service providers.

Fulgham says Meshnet Home, a contracted monthly service installed to the home, has seen considerably more demand that initially anticipated.

"As of this week we have somewhere close to 1,300 GB of Netflix content stored on our local content system, he said.

"We have customers that specifically purchase Meshnet hotspot service in addition to their current ISPs just so that they can stream Netflix in high-definition, without the need to worry about usage fees."

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