Inuvik’s New North Networks making ‘next-generation’ upgrade

A file photo showing a general view of Inuvik in April 2018
A file photo showing a general view of Inuvik in April 2018. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Inuvik internet service provider New North Networks says it is working on a “revolutionary” network upgrade that will improve reliability for customers and eventually offer extremely fast download speeds.

Upgrade work in the next few months will, one day, provide 10 Gbps download speeds to Inuvik customers, New North Networks said in a news release.

That’s 200 times the speed of the company’s current top-of-the-line package, which offers 50 Mbps download speeds.

New North president Tom Zubko admitted speeds of 10 Gbps were “a long time down the road” – the company currently can’t acquire the bandwidth to make that happen – but said this winter’s upgrades would keep the company “ahead of the curve.”



“We’re not going to be offering 10 Gbps in the near future, that’s for certain. But we will be able to offer much higher bandwidths and also have a lot more capacity as a result of these changes,” Zubko told Cabin Radio.

“It’ll lower the impact on the local network of a lot of people using the system at the same time.

“We won’t get as much congestion at high usage peaks.”

The upgrade involves introducing new fibre technology over the next few months.



How that will affect plans and pricing is not yet clear, though Zubko said prices would change as a consequence.

Customers would notice “a better quality of service” as soon as the work is complete, he said.

Asked how much the work was costing, Zubko would only say “quite a bit” for a company of New North’s size. No government funding is involved, he added, stating the work would ensure Inuvik has access to the “fastest internet speeds available to the consumer market for years to come.”

New North uses the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link, an NWT government project, to connect to the south. Other small providers in the North, like SSI Micro in Yellowknife, are reliant on Northwestel’s infrastructure as the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link bypasses Yellowknife.

“Why can we do this in Inuvik on our own, with all our own money and no government subsidies, and Northwestel still cannot do this in the much bigger rate centres they operate in, like Yellowknife and Whitehorse?” he queried.

Northwestel received $62 million in funding from telecoms regulator the CRTC earlier this year. That money will be spent upgrading infrastructure to offer unlimited internet packages across the North.

In July, Northwestel said it was extending its fibre-to-the-home service – its fastest option – to Inuvik. At the time, Zubko questioned the company’s decision to compete with New North, which currently offers the only 50 Mbps packages in the town.

“It does seem kind-of odd that they’re spending a substantial amount of money to compete with their only facilities-based competitor in the Northwest Territories,” he said.

A Northwestel spokesperson said the company was focused on “providing the best service” and investing in its Inuvik operations “made sense on that front.”