History

The Nunavut Broadband Development Corporation has played a pivotal role in bringing affordable and reliable Internet access to all Nunavut communities. Over the period 2003-2016 (projected), NBDC has secured and managed investments totaling over $66 million for broadband initiatives in Nunavut.

Expenditures for broadband (through NBDC) began in 2002-2003 when Indian and Northern Affairs Canada funded the development of a business plan for Nunavut.  Industry Canada and GN Sustainable Development provided additional funding for the business plan in the following fiscal year. The business plan process included a public RFP, the evaluation of network proposals (two were received, one from SSi Micro Ltd and the other from NorthwesTel), and extensive input from government, Inuit organization, community and business stakeholders. The business plan was finalized and submitted to Industry Canada for review on June 6, 2003.  That business plan recommended SSi Micro Ltd as the only compliant bidder (and the lowest cost bidder) and resulted in the QINIQ network.

After approval by Industry Canada (the primary government investor), final contract negotiations were accomplished with SSi, additional funding from several other parties was completed, and the QINIQ broadband network was installed and implemented in the spring of 2005 in all 25 Nunavut communities. The QINIQ network was officially launched in June 2005 in Rankin Inlet.

On the day QINIQ was officially launched, NorthwesTel announced the roll out of NetKaster, a KA band direct-to-home satellite product in competition to QINIQ.

Until 2005, the only “better than dialup” service in Nunavut was provided in some government offices, and in Iqaluit with DSL service launched by NorthwesTel in late 2004. At the time, only a handful of communities in Nunavut even had dial-up. With the ubiquitous launch of QINIQ, by the fall of 2005 every community had at least one supplier of “broadband” - defined at the time as a download speed of 256Kbps – with coverage reaching virtually every house and business in the community.