The ICT landscape in Nunavut is changing. The next few years will see significant changes as new technologies, technological convergence, and competition play out in Nunavut:
- The CRTC has ruled in favour of local phone service competition in the North, opening the door to other service providers and other technologies such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
- There is at least one proponent looking to run fibre through the Northwest Passage, with possible service to some Nunavut communities.
- The CRTC has announced that the definition for “broadband” as far as the Commission is concerned is currently 5 Mbps, a speed often available in southern Canada but a very difficult target to meet (for cost reasons) on a satellite-based network.
Recognizing the need for a long-term and holistic Information & Communications Technology (ICT) strategy as the next step to securing continued investment and innovation in ICT in Nunavut, NBDC completed a fibre feasibility study and a broadband socioeconomic impact assessment in 2011-2012 with funding from CanNor. In the fall of 2012, NBDC held the first Nunavut ICT Summit. The summit, funded by CanNor, focused on the multiple and wide-ranging issues that must be addressed in order to advance the state of ICTs in Nunavut. The outcomes of the Summit were broad consensus on several key issues that impact Nunavut’s connectivity. These include: the continued need for public access; minimum yet scalable service standards for all Nunavut communities and indeed the North; training and skills development; and the need for long term government investment to ensure Nunavut has access to information and communications technologies that are affordable, equitable, and adequate.
The next steps as a result of this collaborative and open discussion was the formation of the Nunavut ICT Task Force that will develop a long term ICT strategy for Nunavut. NBDC is taking a leading role in coordinating the activities of the task force with the goal of having a draft strategy by the spring of 2014.