Internet Society launches World’s First Community Network in the Arctic Circle

August 29, 2023

The Internet Society announced the launch of the most northerly Community Network in the world in Ulukhaktok. A project that will provide free access to faster, more reliable local Internet service in the community.  

Ulukhaktok has long relied on satellite-based Internet access, described by residents as slow, unreliable, and expensive. Despite federal spending commitments over the years to achieve national high-speed Internet targets for Canada, remote northern communities remain some of the most underserved due to the geographical challenges and lack of economic incentive to build robust infrastructure in the far North.  

The community network project is the result of years of partnership. A training course, conducted with the Ulukhaktok Community Corporation (UCC) and local partners, gave community members the skills necessary to build, operate, and maintain the network. The project idea was sparked at the 2018 Indigenous Connectivity Summit in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, a unique event established by the Internet Society that focuses on ensuring Indigenous communities can connect themselves to fast, affordable, and sustainable Internet.  

The Internet Society partnered with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, and UCC to work with the community to train, build, and deploy the community network. In 2023 the University of Washington joined the project. The phased project included: 

  • Community-based research: Community residents and the Internet Society conducted an initial study to help identify local connectivity needs.
  • Technical training: The Internet Society and UCC provided virtual training sessions at the local school.
  • Deployment: The Internet Society and the University of Washington provided funding for technical equipment and resources to build the network. 

The community network launch and celebration were also possible thanks to the collaboration with the Hamlet and residents of Ulukhaktok, and the support of sponsors including Baicells and Air North. 

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About the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation     

Established in 1984 to manage the settlement outlined in the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA), Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) represents the collective interests of Inuvialuit in and beyond the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR). The IRC works to continually improve the economic, social, and cultural well-being of the Inuvialuit through the implementation of the IFA and by all other available means.  

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