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Computer broadband deal signed

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 12/05) - People in 31 communities throughout the Northwest Territories are one step closer to being able to access a new broadband communications service.

The federal government and Darrell Beaulieu, president and CEO of Falcon Communications GP Ltd., recently announced the signing of the agreement for $9.72-million over eight years under the National Satellite Initiative.

The federal funding will help bring broadband access to the NWT communities and allow residents to use services such as electronic banking and e-commerce, distance learning and telehealth. The agreement covers the purchase of satellite capacity for the new wireless network. Each building within a community will be able to connect to a satellite dish using a broadband wireless system.

Falcon Communications is partnering with SSI Micro to deliver the technology, Beaulieu said. "We are projecting that full completion and access to the new broadband service will be in October 2006."

Work on the network began this year, and some communities will be connected within the next couple of months.

In late October, two workers from Fort Providence were electrocuted in Enterprise while erecting a tower for the network.

Beaulieu notes broadband is currently only available in several larger NWT communities, including Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Simpson and Inuvik. Elsewhere, only dial-up service is available through the telephone.

Under the agreement, Falcon is contributing over $2.7 million for the purchase of satellite capacity for the new system. SSI Micro Ltd., the company that designed, built and will own and operate the network, has contributed over $4.7 million.