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  • Arctic Communities Get Wired, Thanks to Friends in Warm Places

Photonics Spectra
Apr 1997
Kathleen G. Tatterson

SALUIT, Quebec -- Residents of the northernmost Quebec province of Nunavik, about 1000 miles from Montreal, now have their own entrance ramp onto the information superhighway, thanks to the efforts of several fiber cable makers. One, Chromatic Technologies Inc. of Framingham, Mass., donated about 4800 m of its indoor/outdoor tight buffered backbone fiber optic cable to communities there.
Thirty years ago, inhabitants of this icy region relied on dog sleds to relay messages to and from civilization. Through Connecting Nunavik, a collection of several companies and organizations, 8500 people have access to the Internet.
Taqramiut Nipingat (TNI), the Inuit Radio and Television of Arctic Quebec, initiated the program in 1994. Since then Connecting Nunavik has opened three telecenters throughout the region. "[TNI] realized that the Inuit communities were concerned with new communication technologies, including the need for an infrastructure to increase Northerners' access to global information systems, the need to develop a general awareness of potential opportunities associated with new technologies, and the need for education and training in use of these technologies," explained Chromatic's Carol Everett.
The consortium expects to widen and integrate the network within the Inuit communities by adding more local sites, area networks, videoconferencing terminals, more cabling, satellite bandwidths and servers. The group will invest more than $8 million on the five-year project.
Other corporate sponsors of the project include IBM, CTI Datacom and Totalnet. Chromatic's donation was vital to the network because its RLTB Series cable can withstand temperatures down to 240 °C, bitter cold even for the heartiest sled dog.

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