In December, 2016, the Government of Canada’s Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) launched the Connect to Innovate Program (CTI) to invest up to $500 million in broadband connectivity for rural and remote communities.

The Program’s aim is to meet the needs of businesses, communities and families in these remote areas by ensuring they are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities afforded by the digital age. The Program will also support the unique connectivity challenges faced by northern communities, most of which are Indigenous.

CTI is primarily focused on the construction of new backbone infrastructure, digital highway networks that move large amounts of data in and out of communities at high speeds, to connect institutions like schools, hospitals, Indigenous organizations and libraries, and to improve residential, business and mobile services.


  • Building on Previous Investments
  • Building on Existing Initiatives
  • Open Access – Projects must be open to third parties for dedicated capacity purchases on a wholesale or retail basis.
  • Community Benefits – Projects must contribute to a significant level of community improvement and must serve the greatest number of communities possible, impacting residential, small business, mobile wireless and enterprise/industrial customers.
  • Anchor Institutions – Backbone infrastructure must connect facilities that serve a public function such as schools, medical facilities, utility companies, libraries, aboriginal organization offices, or other anchors around which a community is formed.
  • Scalability – Projects must be scalable to higher capacities to meet future demand without the need for a complete network overhaul.

SSi’s proposal – The QIMIRLUK SOLUTION

The Qimirluk solution for a regulated backbone utility is the only proposal that currently:
Provides shared network services in all 25 Nunavut communities at the same price point and quality of service for consumers (QINIQ)
Provides open gateways in every community, allowing open access to backbone capacity as well as rack and tower space and equitable prices to allow competitive last mile solutions to flourish
Deploys mobile voice and data (4G-LTE and 2G-GSM) to all 25 Nunavut communities
Plans to add new Ka-Band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) for substantially improved capacity
Plans to add second satellite antennas in all communities for added redundancy
Includes fibre feasibility planning, with satellite as backup
Includes backup power and local support to ensure an evolving and increasingly economical and secure backbone service
Provides services to every government user in all 25 communities
Has local agents in every community, with more being trained

Qimirluk and the Connect to Innovate key criteria:

Building on a History of Investment in Nunavut

  • Qimirluk’s shared backbone and open gateways builds on over $150 million of co-investment into Nunavut communications by SSi and the Government of Canada since 2005, and supports innovation and competition in last-mile services.
  • No inefficient duplication of investment or stranding of previous investment will occur.

Building on Existing Initiatives

  • SSi has already invested to upgrade all 25 communities with 4G-LTE and 2G-GSM last-mile technologies for fixed and mobile voice and broadband service. Qimirluk leverages these previous investments, and focuses on backbone and Open Gateway upgrades.

Open Access

  • Qimirluk’s Open Gateway provides a meet me point in each community for competitive last mile suppliers to deliver services locally using a facility for equipment and tower co-location, backup power and support services, with access to a shared and regulated wholesale backbone network.
  • The Open Gateway provides connectivity to the south and to other Nunavut communities through more than one satellite and enables future connections to multiple backbone technologies such as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, microwave and fibre.
  • Large volume customers (such as governments or mines) may purchase Qimirluk backbone and gateway services directly, or from last mile suppliers, or both.

All Communities Treated Equally

  • Qimirluk backbone services are provided in every Nunavut community at the same price and service level – in our view, Nunavut is the community, not 25 separate municipalities.
  • Qimirluk offers fair wholesale pricing that blends C-Band and Ka-Band capacity, and fibre and microwave when available in the future, providing the same backbone and gateway pricing for all 25 communities. In this way, the efficiencies gained by new technology deliver clear economic benefits to all communities, even if some are not connected to Ka-Band or fibre.

No Community Left Behind

  • SSi was the first and is still the only company to provide broadband service to all 25 Nunavut communities.
  • SSi is deploying the same 4G-LTE and 2G-GSM technologies, with the same pricing and same level of service, in all communities.
  • Qimirluk will continue to ensure that all communities benefit equally.

Community Benefits, Local Training and New Opportunities

  • SSi has a long track record of training and contracting local customer service and infrastructure support agents. Qimirluk includes plans and funding for a broader initiative to continue to build ICT capabilities in the communities.
  • SSi also contracts Nunavut companies and local residents whenever possible.
  • Through Qimirluk, all providers, including our last-mile QINIQ service, will have access to significantly increased speeds, backbone capacity and redundancy.
  • QINIQ provides broadband to thousands of residential customers, plus hundreds of small businesses, municipalities, government offices and community organizations.

Anchor Institutions Supported

  • 25 municipalities and 25 local housing organizations use QINIQ as their primary service provider.
  • All Federal Government offices in Nunavut, including core services such as airport navigation systems (via NavCan), and Canada Post all use QINIQ.
  • Qulliq Energy Corporation runs its own dedicated satellite network, but also relies on QINIQ to serve Nunavut’s power generation sites.
  • Inuit organizations in Nunavut rely on QINIQ for broadband connectivity.

Scalability and Redundancy

  • Qimirluk’s Open Gateways and network backbone have been designed for current satellites (C-Band), new High Throughput Satellite technology (T19V Ka-Band), fibre and microwave, and other new satellite technology such as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. Each new backbone delivery technology will require added equipment, which Qimirluk is fully prepared to accommodate.
  • With both C-Band and Ka-Band satellite capacity, Qimirluk ensures that each community has redundant connectivity. As submarine fibre is deployed, these satellites provide even more critical redundancy in the event of a fibre break, which can take months to repair in the Arctic.

Regulated Pricing – Wholesale Backbone and Gateway Services

  • All wholesale services provided with Qimirluk will be sold under a regulated contract to customers with a standard price list that applies to all customers, including SSi’s own last-mile services. Prices will be in two components: Open Gateway and Backbone Transport.
  • This will ensure fair and non-discriminatory pricing, enabling local innovation and competition.
  • Having the Open Gateway services and pricing separate from Backbone Transport allows third parties, including government, to bring raw backbone capacity, be it satellite, fibre or microwave, to the Open Gateway should they choose.

Competition and Innovation

  • The Qimirluk solution builds a new model designed to deliver higher quality, evolving technology, and encourage competition and innovation in the last mile.
  • Local Nunavut-based firms will be able to affordably enter the telecommunications market, building and delivering innovative new services locally, supported by fair and transparent access to the subsidized backbone and co-location facilities.


  • Building on the significant co-investment made by SSi and the Government of Canada into Nunavut, along with years of planning, SSi can begin immediate delivery of benefits to all 25 communities.
  • Qimirluk’s added capacity and enhanced backbone can be immediately leveraged using the QINIQ last-mile 4G-LTE and 2G-GSM network in all 25 communities.

Fibre Deployment

  • To prepare for fibre deployment to Nunavut, a key component of the Qimirluk proposal will be to develop fibre plans, pricing and financing models. This includes work for fibre feasibility and landing into each Nunavut community.
  • SSi believes that Inuit participation and preferably local ownership in any fibre initiative will be essential for the project to be successful. In this regard, the plan is to develop a “Fibre Coalition” of stakeholders, including Inuit Organizations and the private sector.

A Global Showcase

  • Nunavut can be a global showcase for advanced communications; where broadband and innovation overcome the barriers of distance, and Northern solutions and know-how are exported around the world.