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The wireless world grows

Young entrepreneur helps expand Internet use in the North

Thorunn Howatt
Northern News Services

Fort Liard (Dec 10/01) - One of the North's bright young minds will lead his community of Fort Liard, NWT into the future and hopefully a profitable business.

Koty Loe, 18, is training to set up and maintain a new satellite Internet system -- the result of a three-year contract between the ADK Corporates Group owned by the Acho Dene Koe and Quick Link Communications Ltd.

"It's wireless, high-speed Internet hook-up with satellite," said Loe.

Loe was trained in computer networking and basic computer fundamentals. "I have a little bit of background in computers from school," he said. Loe will be working with QLC to set up the satellite system in Fort Liard and is acting as the on-site technician.

This venture means the community will be connected to the rest of the world with high-speed satellite communication and make money too.

"We look at the cost of our communication every month and say, 'Gee whiz, isn't this expensive,'" said chief executive officer of the ADK Group, Shane Parrish.

Parrish said the company was paying $20,000 per month for phone bills. The community had no local Internet provider. To access the Net, users had to dial long distance to Yellowknife. The system was slow and inexpensive.

"We are trying to convert our telecommunications from a cost centre to a profit centre," he said.

Parrish says if ADK can provide fast, reliable Internet service, customers like the oil and gas companies in the area will buy the product.

"We are setting these systems up in remote camps ... and we will have communications services there," he said.

The cost to set up the project is $170,000 and will outfit Echo Dene school as well as three other locations.

"It's all wireless. People will have an antenna on their roof and then we will have an antenna on our building," said Parrish. Household customers will pay a reasonable fee for the service, he said.

ADK is the Acho Dene Koe First Nation band's primary company. It is involved in oil- and gas-related companies, air services and construction. The community of about 600 people is 350 kilometres from the nearest communications infrastructure.

QLC is a privately-owned communications company based out of Calgary and Toronto.