The future is now in Dawson City

Latitude Wireless hooked up Dawson City with 3G wireless service this week. It didn't take long for Dawsonites to embrace the new technology, said Mayor Wayne Potoroka.

Latitude Wireless hooked up Dawson City with 3G wireless service this week.

It didn’t take long for Dawsonites to embrace the new technology, said Mayor Wayne Potoroka.

“In fact, I just received a call from my neighbour yesterday from his wife’s iPhone. He’s pretty excited about it,” said Potoroka.

While the mayor himself doesn’t own a cellphone, plenty of his constituents have already bought smart phones in anticipation of this move.

“A lot of people I know purchased them because they’re really nifty tools,” he said.

But it’s not just good news for technophiles.

Getting 3G access has long been something that the Klondike business community has been clamouring for.

The lack of connectivity was a frustration for tourists and a hindrance for business, said Potoroka.

“Any time you can provide one more service and one more reason for people that want to come to your town to do business, that’s great,” he said.

The plans to hook Dawson up were in the works for three months, said Curtis Shaw, the general manager of Latitude Wireless.

“It’s something we wanted to get done before Christmas and we didn’t know if we’d be able to with the weather,” he said. “We were kind of racing to get it done before the end of the year.”

As of this week, most of the town is covered, but there are still some dead zones near the airport, he said.

“The airport is a little more complicated, just in terms of snow and stuff on a mountain,” he said.

Dawson now joins the ranks of Marsh Lake and Whitehorse, which both have 3G service.

The rest of the territory is still runs on old CDMA wireless technology.

Plans were in the works earlier this year for NorthwesTel – which owns a large stake in Latitude – to hook the entire North up with 3G services.

It was part of a modernization plan forced on NorthwesTel by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission.

The $273-million project included $40 million from the public benefits fund that Bell Canada Enterprises

– NorthwesTel’s parent company – had to put aside as part of its purchase of Astral Media.

After the CRTC scuttled the Astral deal, NorthwesTel had to go back to the drawing board.

The deadline for the revised modernization plan is Jan. 16.

Without that additional $40 million, it’s likely that not all of the communities in the Yukon will see 3G wireless services in the near term.

“We’re looking at how far we can take 3G,” said Shaw. “There’s going to be some communities that will likely not be economic and we’re not going to be able to have ubiquitous coverage in every single community in northern Canada.

“Places like Dawson city, obviously there’s lots of demand for service and there’s an economic case to make it, so we decided to move forward with Dawson and not wait.”

Depending on how things go, Dawson could see another upgrade sooner rather than later.

“The network we’ve put in is actually upgradable to 4G, so if there’s lots of demand for data, lots of demand for bandwidth, in the future we can move the network to 4G,” said Shaw.

Contact Josh Kerr at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: Another election, another anomaly

Monday’s “double-tie” election is generating some free publicity for the Yukon as Outside news agencies scramble to find someone to interview.

A cyclist rides along the Millenium Trail in downtown Whitehorse on a frigid Feb. 9. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of an e-bike bylaw that would designate how e-bike riders can use city trails. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
First two readings passed on Whitehorse e-bike bylaw

Delegate calls on city to consider age restrictions and further regulations

Whitehorse City Hall at its Steele Street entrance. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Change of plans approved for city hall

Project would see 1966 city hall demolished

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Whitehorse International Airport in Whitehorse on May 6, 2020.
NAV CANADA suspends review for Whitehorse airport traffic control

NAV CANADA announced on April 15 that it is no longer considering… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

Joel Krahn/ Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Most Read