Lousy phone, Internet service saddles Canada's northern provinces

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

A new report by the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for the North is highlighting some of the problems with Internet and phone service in the North. The report released last week describes what many Northerners already know — Internet service is often slower, less reliable and more expensive than it is elsewhere.

The report also surveyed the cost of a residential telephone line with a limited North America plan, a basic cellular phone-voice plan and high-speed Internet.

The Northern Canadian average cost (including northern parts of provinces) was $139 per month, where in the northwestern Yukon territory and Canada’s Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) residents paid an average of $150 per month, and residents of Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut paid an average of $171 per month.

The report recommends improvements in Northern telecommunications and broadband, such as more government investment in infrastructure, improved reliability, training of IT professionals in the North, and subsidies for home internet and phone service.

The Conference Board of Canada says subsidies would help a knowledge-based economy develop in the North.

The conference board also looks at Greenland’s fiber-optic link as a possible model for connecting communities in Canada’s North and highlights the importance of competition.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.