Arctic IT staff preps for Games

As if the director of IT for the Arctic Winter Games doesn’t face enough challenges implementing technology in remote communities, yesterday he had to tell his board members that a dog just ate some crucial cable.

Mark Hickey, director of IT for the 2002 Iqaluit Arctic Winter Games, being held March 17 to 21, explained there was some cable running down a pole outside the main centre of the games and, Thursday morning, someone tied a dog to the pole.

“The dog, for some reason, didn’t like the fibre and ate it,” he said from Iqaluit. “I had to go to the board meeting and explain to them that my games operation centre has no phones in it because a dog ate my fibre. We will have to redo it – move the cable, resplice it and everything. And the current temperature is -28C.”

The cable the dog lunched on was part of a communications solution designed specifically for the games by Ottawa-based Mitel Networks Corp. and NorthwesTel Inc.

Mitel Networks announced Thursday it would be providing a solution that allows one centralized number and enables communication over a wide area network (WAN), allowing for easier communications between the Games’ operation centre and its mobile staff during the five-day event. Mitel Networks’ communication solution connects five athletic venues via fibre-optic cable or copper trunking.

Bill Dormer, Mitel’s technical account manager for central and western Canada, explained the company implemented a traditional call control SX 2000 with control redundancy that was distributed throughout the town of Iqaluit on single-node fibre peripheral modes, which allows users to deploy desktops through the fibre interface that already exists.

“Our trunking connectivity is T-1 and we have three spans of T-1 coming in,” he said, adding that Mitel installed about 2.5 km of single node fibre. “They are able to connect within the campus environment with four-digit dialling, and access outside of Iqaluit with the traditional numbering plan by dialling nine.”

Dormer said it was actually one of Iqaluit’s challenges that made Mitel a good fit for the project.

“Iqaluit can’t bury cable and everything is overhead,” he said. “Because of the stress on their copper plant they couldn’t deploy copper, so us with our fibre became a natural fit for this because we don’t need a bunch of copper.”

The Games, co-hosted by Iqaluit and Nuuk, Greenland, as well as other communities across Canada, Greenland, Russia and the U.S., are spread over around 30 venues.

“We needed a unifying telephone system and Mitel said they could do it,” Hickey said, explaining that this sort of venture had already been implemented within the Nunavut government and that the Games gives Mitel a chance to showcase the developments it has made since that project. “We have a central node in the NorthwesTel exchange and peripheral nodes run on fibre to the major sites and from those major sites. There is inside wiring to offices and courtesy phones and everything else. Less effort and better communications.”

But the better communications didn’t come without some challenges, of which the dog incident has been one of the more minor.

“They kept moving the venues, so the design kept changing and Mitel kept working with us there,” Hickey said. “The latest challenge is that the telephone equipment kept getting bumped because all the equipment has to be flown into Iqaluit because there are no roads here. We also had two blizzards, so it took a couple of days to get to the equipment.”

Mitel Networks in Ottawa is at

The Arctic Winter Games in Iqaluit, Nunavut is at