Arctic Fibre, a company promising to bring faster and more reliable broadband internet to the Canadian territory of Nunavut, is visiting communities in the sparsely populated region this week to survey the landscape and drum up support for the plan.
The company plans to run underwater fibre optic cable from Tokyo to London. The cable would branch off to serve Nunavut communities and potentially mine sites in Nunavik.
The project is expected to cost CAN $620mn ($600mn).
Arctic Fibre head Douglas Cunningham says the company has raised the CAN $230 million it needs to get started and plans to borrow the rest from the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
A goodwill tour Arctic Fibre still needs permission from Nunavut regulators and visiting the communities where the cable would come ashore is part of that process.
The first stop was at Apex Beach near Nunavut’s capital of Iqaluit, where the main fibre optic cable reaches land.
Iqaluit mayor John Graham compared the project with the building of the Trans-Canada Railway.
“The whole project’s really exciting,” he said. “I don’t profess to understand all the technical issues with it, or the technical difficulties associated with it, but we’re certainly behind it 100 percent.”
Building the future, respecting the past The company will visit other towns to meet with hamlet and city officials to reassure residents that it will respect heritage areas while building the network.
Arctic Fibre said work could start next summer with the network up and running by 2016.
Nunavut is the largest, northernmost territory of Canada. It is one of the most remote, sparsely settled regions in the world, with a population of just under 32,000 mostly Inuit residents, spread over a land area the size of western Europe. Mining and Arctic shipping interests are making better communications in the region increasingly important.