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Backup telecommunications line could go live in 2024: Yukon government

$85-million project will be leased and operated for two decades by Northwestel
A Northwestel location in Dawson City on July 20. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

A backup line for cell phone and internet traffic in the Yukon won’t be ready until after next year.

The territory currently relies on a single line.

In a July 29 email, a spokesperson for the Yukon’s department of Highways and Public Works said the secondary network is expected to be completed in 2024. Brittany Cross said the current cost projection for the project is $85 million.

Cross said the 800-kilometre fibre optic line installation from Dawson City to Inuvik crosses the territory of eight First Nations and Indigenous groups in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

So far, close to 200 kilometres of conduit have been installed.

In total, it will create a 4,000-kilometre network by connecting to the existing Mackenzie River Valley fibre link in Inuvik.

“​​Every community in the Yukon, as well as some in the Northwest Territories, will enjoy improved internet and cell phone reliability and redundancy of service,” Cross said.

“In the case of a line cut … there will be a backup line to prevent a disruption of service.”

The website indicates the line will be a public asset owned by the Yukon government. Northwestel will lease and operate the line for a period of 20 years.

“Northwestel is responsible for providing territorial internet services and related backup plans,” Cross said.

“Significant land erosion” knocked out internet services for 12 hours for people, businesses and organizations across the Yukon, northern British Columbia and the Northwest Territories on July 6, according to a spokesperson for Northwestel.

As previously reported by the News, Andrew Anderson said by email July 7 the mass disruption was caused by the land erosion damaging a fibre optic cable along the Alaska Highway in the north part of British Columbia.

Anderson did not say how many customers lost service as a result of that territory-wide outage.

The Yukon government does not track the frequency and duration of outages. The News has reached out to Northwestel to request the data but has yet to receive a response.

READ MORE: Land erosion along Alaska Highway knocks out internet for 12 hours

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Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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