The Northwestel building in downtown Yellowknife on November 20, 2020. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Northwestel says a wildfire is preventing inspection of the fibre line at the heart of an internet slowdown covering most of the Beaufort Delta.
In a statement on Thursday, the company said service in Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Inuvik, Tsiigehtchic and Tuktoyaktuk has been slower than normal after a fault in the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Line required switching to a backup microwave service.
“Internet and cellular services are still working, but very congested,” the company stated.
“There is no internet traffic flowing over the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Line past Fort Good Hope.
“Due to an active wildfire, we have not been able to inspect the fibre line, and we don’t have a time frame for when full service will be restored.”
Northwestel said customers affected by the disruption will be automatically credited “50 percent of the value of their service for the duration of the disruption.”
As the NWT’s severe fire season continues, and with no telling when the wildfire preventing access to the fibre line will end, Northwestel said it will use low-Earth orbit satellites to help improve internet speeds.
“We are working to rapidly install OneWeb low-Earth orbit terminals to provide more capacity into the region,” the company stated, referring to satellite provider OneWeb, with which Northwestel already has a partnership.
When that service might come online was not clear.
“Throughout this year, our community technicians have been working tirelessly to keep cellular and internet services running, often in the face of unforgiving conditions,” Northwestel president Curtis Shaw was quoted as saying, thanking employees for “going above and beyond to respond to this unprecedented situation.”