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Telesat Demonstrates Advanced Broadband Communications Services in the North

19 September , 2012


Telesat, Canada’s demonstrations this month in Iqaluit to illustrate how today’s satellite services can help remedy the bandwidth gaps that exist in the North. These gaps were identified in the Arctic Communications Infrastructure Assessment (ACIA) Report completed in 2011 for the Northern Communications & Information Systems Working Group and sponsored by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Today’s satellite services can make high speed broadband widely available to Canada’s remote communities. Satellites can also provide Internet connectivity for local 3G and 4G hotspots, enabling users of mobile devices in the Far North to have broadband access just like users enjoy in major urban centers. The digital divide between Northern and Southern Canada need not exist. Telesat satellite capacity in orbit today can cost effectively close the divide while improving economic development and quality of life for residents and local businesses in the North.

Telesat’s satellite demonstrations in Iqaluit include:

§ Providing high speed broadband to the Iqaluit Centennial Library Community Access Program (CAP) site. Telesat will provide broadband to computers in the library that match and exceed the speeds available in Southern Canada;

§ Providing high speed satellite broadband capacity linking 3G cellular service provided by Northwestel to the Internet backbone, enabling broadband services through mobile devices; and

§ Providing streaming and live webcasting in cooperation with Inuit Communications Systems Ltd.

Earlier this year, Telesat announced its “Arctic Communications Infrastructure Initiative” in which Telesat committed to make a $40 million investment, as part of a proposed broader public/private partnership, to provide robust and affordable broadband communications infrastructure that will meet the needs of Northern communities over the next decade. These live demonstrations in Iqaluit show the broadband services that can be made available if Northerners are provided access to the communications infrastructure they need. Both the technology, supplied by leading modem manufacturers Comtech EF Data and Newtec, and the satellite capacity are available today and can be quickly and cost effectively implemented throughout the North to remedy critical communications shortcomings identified in the ACIA Report.

“Telesat’s live service trials in Iqaluit convincingly demonstrate that today’s advanced satellite solutions can provide Northern communities with a robust broadband backbone infrastructure on par with what exists in Southern Canada,” said Paul Bush, Telesat’s Vice President Business Development North America. “Telesat is working to form a public/private partnership that will provide the dual benefits of narrowing the digital divide between Canada’s North and South while significantly reducing the cost of provisioning those services. Telesat is ready to move forward with our proposed public/private partnership and is hopeful that the application demonstrations in Iqaluit will provide momentum to begin making advanced broadband services a reality for the North in the coming months.”

"Northwestel is keen to test this next generation 3G wireless technology in Iqaluit," said Paul Flaherty, President and Chief Executive Officer for Northwestel. "We look forward to seeing how Telesat's new broadband infrastructure could power up our products and services. This is a great example of many partners coming together to address a need identified by our customers."

Mark Hamilton, Managing Director at Inuit Communications Systems Ltd., added: “With this advanced network available to us, we are able to provide the type of modern broadband applications that will contribute immensely to the development of new, sustainable employment in Nunavut in the growing digital media industry. This high level of connectivity will also allow people in all regions of the territory, young and old, to share Inuit culture and maintain and promote Inuit languages in ways that are yet to be imagined."