Nunavik May See Improved Online Video Streaming in 2020

Nunavik residents could see improved internet access in 2020, as Tamaani Internet tries out new technology.By Elaine Anselmi, Nunatsiaq News
January 6, 2020

Nunavik residents could see improved internet access in 2020, as Tamaani Internet tries out new technology.

Tamaani, a subsidiary of the Kativik Regional Government that provides internet services across Nunavik, is experimenting with caching devices to ease online congestion caused by the rising popularity of video-streaming services like Netflix and YouTube.

Éloi Clément, assistant director of Tamaani, told the KRG’s last meeting of 2019, on Nov. 27, that such a device would act as a server, storing information locally to reduce the bandwidth used and speeding up access to that information.

“We tried one and we are trying another next year to make the experience quite a bit better from what it is today,” said Clément. He said the first system they tried didn’t meet the level of caching they were hoping for.

“By next year, it should be at least livable,” Clément said. “It won’t be fibre, but it will be livable.”

As well as the different caching systems they’re trying out, Clément said they’ve approached Netflix directly about a similar system the company itself provides.

“Netflix said we would be too small to be considered for that free program they have,” Clément said. “We’re still going to push to try to do that. Unfortunately, they’ve said no so far.”

Easing the burden of streaming

But big improvements to the region’s internet access will depend on the completion of ongoing plans to lay underwater fibre optic cable along the coast, to provide a high-speed replacement for the region’s existing satellite-based connections.

“We’re trying really hard to make your internet experience as best as it can be, but until we get fibre to the south or increase satellite capacity, we are very limited in what we can do,” said Daryl Combden, the regional government’s director of administration, on Nov. 27 at the KRG’s last meeting of 2019.

“Satellite, it’s very limited in capacity and very expensive to get more. We’re working very hard on trying to squeeze as much as we can out of it.”

The rise in streaming, online gaming and the use of certain apps is putting a particularly weighty burden on Nunavik’s already-stretched satellite system.

“We’re seeing lots and lots of heavy usage. Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, all of these applications are very heavy on bandwidth,” said Combden.

“We see a lot of users of these applications in one household, on one modem. Five users on different applications at the same time.”

Combden said streaming is hampering service so much that they’ve restricted the use of high-definition and 4K streaming, which lowered the clarity of the picture but means more people can watch.

Latest tender closes for Hudson fibre line

The push to get Nunavik off satellite internet altogether continues after a few bumps.

The regional government’s request for proposals to lay a fibre optic line along the sea floor of the Hudson Bay coast was extended into late November.

The tender opened in September, after a June request for proposals saw only a single bid. That bid was rejected due to a lack of testing of how the company’s technology would hold up in saltwater.

An update on responses to the latest tender will be shared in the upcoming February meeting of the regional government council.

“The reason we did the extension was to ensure we get some competitive bids,” Combden said.

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