CRTC announces $272M conditional funding for fibre link to 4 Nunavut communities

Iqaluit in July 2022. It's one of four Nunavut communities that would be linked by fibre if a project to bring high-speed internet to the territory proceeds. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Iqaluit in July 2022. It's one of four Nunavut communities that would be linked by fibre if a project to bring high-speed internet to the territory proceeds. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says it's putting $271.9 million toward a 1,300-kilometre-long undersea fibre internet link for Iqaluit, Kinngait, Coral Harbour and Kimmirut.

The funding would come from the commission's broadband fund at the request of the Nunavut government, and is conditional on getting the support of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.

"Given the challenges and the significant costs associated with bringing fibre to Nunavut, as well as the potential for the project to enable future fibre deployments in the region, the commission views the funding requested for this project as necessary," the commission wrote in a decision Friday.

Last year, the territory cancelled its plans to run fibre to Iqaluit and Kimmirut because it ended up costing too much. Nunavut's internet currently comes via satellite.

The decision notes that the territory's funding request received support from all four communities, along with local hunters and trappers organizations, Inuit associations and businesses.

The commission expects the project to be constructed within three years.

The commission's decision to fund the project was not unanimous. In a dissenting opinion, commissioner Claire Anderson wrote that Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated should have been consulted before the commission gave conditional approval.

"Any time we look at whether our decisions advance reconciliation, we must consider the concerns and interests of Indigenous representatives, which was not fully contemplated by the majority in this decision," she wrote.

She pointed out that Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated had already put its support behind a different Inuit-led application for funding — one that is no longer being considered, now that the commission has selected the territory's application instead.

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorportated was not available for comment.