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Internet options grow in Deh Cho
NorthwesTel begins offering Internet services in four Deh Cho communities

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 22, 2011

A partnership between two businesses has led to increased Internet provider options for four Deh Cho communities.

NNSL photo/graphic

NorthwesTel began offering broadband Internet services in Jean Marie River, Wrigley, Kakisa and Nahanni Butte this month, creating competition with SSI Micro which is already providing Internet in the communities. - Galit Rodan/NNSL photo illustration

This month NorthwesTel began offering Internet services in the communities of Jean Marie River, Wrigley, Kakisa and Nahanni Butte. The Yellowknife-based communications company SSI Micro is already offering internet services in these communities.

Higher speeds

"It's very exciting for NorthwesTel," said Emily Younker about the expansion into the communities.

The Internet services NorthwesTel is offering have higher speeds than what was previously available in the communities, said Younker, the company's corporate communications manager.

In Jean Marie River, Wrigley and Kakisa, NorthwesTel is now offering high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) Internet. In Nahanni Butte NorthwesTel has launched its Netkaster Internet service that uses satellites to provide broadband Internet.

In addition to the four communities, NorthwesTel has also expanded its DSL Internet capacity in 10 communities it was already serving including Fort Providence and Fort Simpson in the Deh Cho.

NorthwesTel partnered with Falcon Communications GP Ltd. for the project. Falcon Communications is the general partner responsible for the operation of the Broadband Business Alliance Limited Partnership, which receives funding for projects in part from Infrastructure Canada's Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. The partnership consists of the Akaitcho Regional Investment Corporation, Dehcho Economic Corporation, Denendeh Investments LP and the Tetlit Gwich'in Council.

A total of $1 million was used for the communications infrastructure upgrades to the 14 communities. NorthwestTel provided half of the funding.

In a press release, Darrell Beaulieu, president and chief executive officer of Falcon Communications, said the company's goal is to see that residents of all NWT communities have access to affordable Internet to interact with their family and friends and to advance the interest of businesses, governments, educational and social institutions.

Video streaming

In Jean Marie River, Wrigley, Kakisa and Nahanni Butte, Younker said residents who subscribe to the new high-speed Internet services will notice a significant difference in what they can do online especially with reference to video streaming and downloading.

It will also potentially allow for the expansion of services like e-health where residents can communicate with health professionals through video stream and video conferencing instead of leaving their community, she said.

To begin offering Internet, the company upgraded its central offices in Jean Marie River, Wrigley and Kakisa to allow for digital data transmission through existing and future phone lines.

In Jean Marie River, the microwave radio network was also upgraded with new equipment to increase the capacity in the community.

SSI Micro offers its AirWare Network satellite-based Internet in Jean Marie River, Wrigley, Kakisa and Nahanni Butte, along with 26 other communities in the territory. Its speeds in kilobits per second (Kbps) range from 256 to 768 dependent on the service purchased.

Through its DSL Internet, NorthwesTel's speeds range from 384 Kbps to 5 migabits per second.

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