Broadband internet is something we sometimes take for granted, but in Peawanuck First Nation where the remote community is served by a shared satellite connection, it is a big deal. Head Councillor Jeff Hunter shares how this week’s upgrade has made his work at the band office more efficient. "I used to watch the little wheel go around and around when I went on the internet, now my pages are loading right away.”
The satellite broadband upgrade will provide an increased service for the next five years and is funded by Connect to Innovate, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation with support from Keewaytinook Okimakanak and K-Net. George Matthews is the Community Technician keeping the community-owned network maintained. "I’ve really noticed a difference with the internet speed, and people are telling me how fast it is now", he says.
Peawanuck is a member of a national satellite consortium (NICSN) and K-Net continues to work with the partners to find new solutions to maximize the satellite broadband available. Many of the partners have built fibre to their communities, however satellite remains the only feasible option for some remote First Nations.
Access to online education resources has been tough in the remote community. The elementary school is already taking advantage of the increased speeds, "what a difference accessing the network now, this is great!" A student working through online High School courses shares how difficult it is to complete assignments when the site keeps timing out. "Thanks for making the internet fast, now I can do some online courses and graduate High School, I'm so excited to finally do this!"
Increased broadband access is also making a difference in healthcare. The health staff explain, "we will be able to phase out paper charting and access real time medical reports, make use of electronic medical records and decrease gaps to care.”