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Fibre link officially live
GNWT, industry gather to celebrate connection that brings high-speed internet to Inuvik

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Thursday, June 15, 2017

It took two years to build, but just a flick of a switch from Premier Bob McLeod and Finance Minister Robert McLeod to make the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link officially live.

NNSL photograph

Premier Bob McLeod and Finance Minister Robert McLeod officially switch on the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link Sunday, June 12. Behind them are Justice Minister Louis Sebert, Education, Culture and Employment Minister Alfred Moses, Health Minister Glen Abernethy and Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

"Some of us have been waiting for what seems like forever," said Peter Clarkson, regional director for the executive department of the GNWT, in opening remarks at a ceremony Sunday, June 12.

The 1,154 kilometre fibre line connects High Level, Alberta, to Inuvik, and it will extend to Tuktoyaktuk once the all-season road is finished.

Along the way, the line connects six communities in the Mackenzie Valley to high-speed internet and state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure.

"Once the Inuvik-Tuk highway is finished . Canada will be connected not only by an all-season road, but also by fibre coast-to-coast-to-coast," said Clarkson.

Guests from several countries, satellite industry players and GNWT cabinet members were on hand for the celebration.

Finance Minister Robert McLeod said there's a lot of work that's gone into making the fibre line a reality.

"This is an exciting day," McLeod said. "This is going to put Inuvik on the map in the satellite world."

He would especially like to see young people get jobs in the satellite industry here.

"I think it's something that our young people today, especially up in this region, would be well qualified for," he said.

"As we move away from a resource-based economy, which is kind of slow right now, we're looking forward to going to more of a knowledge-based economy. This is another step in bringing that forward."

Iain Morris, chief operating officer of Ledcor Technical Services, said the fibre line was one of the most ambitious fibre optic network projects undertaken in North America in decades.

"Our construction teams, sub-contractors and local partners and suppliers had to be innovative and agile to get the job done," he stated in a news release. "It was a historic achievement for all involved."

Northwestel, which will operate the line, stated that customers in Inuvik will see monthly recurring rates reduce by $7 on average on their Northwestel internet bill.

Planet Labs, who along with Kongsberg Satellite Services invested $10 million to expand their operations at the private satellite facility in Inuvik, stated in a news release congratulations and appreciation for the completion of the project.

"This is exactly the type of critical infrastructure needed to enable Inuvik, Northwest Territories, to become a world-class hub for commercial and scientific satellite downlink activity," stated the company's release.

Planet and KSAT are still awaiting licensing from Global Affairs Canada to operationalize their Inuvik ground station but look forward to the Canadian Satellite Ground Station in Inuvik becoming an anchor client of the fibre link in the near future.

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