Company gives Quick Link to the North

A Calgary-based company is bringing high-speed Internet access to a remote northern community.

Quick Link Communications Ltd., a satellite access service provider (SASP), has joined with Chevron Canada Resources, and the Acho Dene Koe (ADK) Corporate Group, owned by the First Nations Fort Liard Band, to provide high-speed Internet access via the CampusNet solution to Fort Liard, a remote community located in the Northwest Territories.

Quick Link is providing the CampusNet solution, which integrates satellite and wireless technologies, to ADK, who pioneers the delivery of high-speed Internet services throughout the community. Calgary-based Chevron Canada Resources has provided the wireless equipment and three Internet kiosks that include a PC, printer, scanner and Internet camera, which are community accessible to the Fort Liard region.

“We have delivered broadband access to a number of first-nations communities and we have created initiatives that allow first-nations communities to sell the services through non-profit ISPs or profitable ISPs in the areas,” said Chris Lewis, president of Quick Link, from his Calgary office.

Lewis explained that one of the benefits of the project is that is that Quick Link has a shared environment, including a network operations centre, designed to support multiple users out of one gateway, which is all based on IP technology.

“The system that we launched at ADK facilitates not only their communications but operations to their remote sites,” he said. “We have launched two of their sites already and they are operating at a very low capital cost to ADK.”

Shane Parrish, CEO of ADK Corporate Group, located in the community of about 600 people in the south-west corner of the North West Territories, said this project is the solution to a community facing some of the highest communications costs in the country.

“Most of our calling is to Alberta,” Parrish said. “We get better rates if we are dialling out of Calgary than out of here and now we are expanding the service and there are just a few bugs to work out and next year, we should have it in full swing.”

ADK’s focus was to be able to launch services for themselves and, in addition to that, to be able to deliver services to a number of oil corporations and service companies operating in the MacKenzie delta region. Now, the community is able to support large corporate intranets to their customers and at that same time, deliver voice services and high-speed Internet access.

“We were impressed with Quick Link because they provided the right mix of services so we didn’t have to piece things together with a bunch of different places,” Parrish said. “This is the future and we just took a big step forward by just getting hooked up. We are a little community of 600 people but we have a business that does $30 million a year.”

That kind of business volume, he added, means that business people have to be able to communicate as efficiently as their partners to the south.

“Now, we have systems that you can access from anywhere and as we continue to expand, we can because we have these linkages,” he said. “We can do it as if we were in Calgary or wherever we want to be.”

Kevin Lo, a technology analyst with Lightyear Capital Inc. in Calgary, said that getting a location like Fort Liard wired at an affordable cost is a challenge that’s hard to meet.

“Obviously, there are large infrastructure costs associated with wiring any place up,” Lo said. “If you do it through standard cable modems or cable lines, it’s very costly and for the population in northern communities, it’s just too much.”