Would Northwestel’s planned fibre loop boost Internet reliability? Absolutely

Would Northwestel's planned fibre loop boost Internet reliability? Absolutely It's amazing to think that a single buried fibre cable, barely one half-inch in diameter but thousands of kilometers long, plays such a big role in connecting northerners to th

It’s amazing to think that a single buried fibre cable, barely one half-inch in diameter but thousands of kilometers long, plays such a big role in connecting northerners to the outside world.

In 2013, this Northwestel fibre cables carried at its peak three gigabits per second of data. By 2015 that had more than doubled to 8 Gbps. By 2017 we expect that to double yet again.

That’s a lot of phone calls and Netflix binges, but also a lot of credit card transactions and hospital X-rays.

As our broadband usage continues its exponential rise, so too does the impact of a fibre cut on our daily lives and our economy. We know doing nothing is not an option.

That’s why Northwestel put forward a proposal to governments in the North to help us complete a redundant fibre loop that will protect phone, Internet, business and government services in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and in satellite served communities throughout the North.

We put this proposal forward as part of our commitment to delivering the most reliable service possible to our Northern customers. Despite there being no new revenue opportunities for Northwestel, we have proposed owning, operating and paying for over 70 per cent of the total lifetime cost of the new fibre.

It’s one of many investments Northwestel is making to improve our entire end-to-end network. This year alone, we’ve invested over $43 million in capital infrastructure. These investments have allowed us to double northern broadband capacity, improve last mile service delivery, upgrade rural phone features and increase Internet speeds.

In Whitehorse we can see the results with Internet speeds up to 150 Mbps and 98 new digital TV channels delivered over our network.

We’re making our network faster, bigger and more responsive. We also need to do the hard work to make it more reliable.

Here’s something you probably don’t know. Just this past weekend, the main fibre line that runs from Edmonton into the N.W.T. stopped transmitting data completely. For more than 16 hours, the fibre line went totally dark.

Why didn’t we see a single news story about a business that had to close its doors, or a resident who couldn’t make a cell phone call? Because Northwestel’s southern fibre network runs on a loop. We were able to simply route all traffic the other way around the loop as repairs were completed.

Its past time the entire northern fibre network benefitted from this same level of protection. Northwestel is ready to do its part.

We’ve already begun the next phase of detailed engineering to keep this project on track. We’re proud to be working with government partners to strengthen our connections in the North for the benefit of all Northerners.

Paul Flaherty

Northwestel President and CEO

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