Launch of Fiber to the Home service in Fort Albany First Nation

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MOOSE FACTORY — May 9, 2022: Western James Bay Telecom Network (WJBTN) is pleased to announce the launch of its Fiber to the Home Internet service offering in Fort Albany First Nation. The service was launched on our company’s Facebook page on April 4, 2022.

“Over 40 new customers signed up on the first day,” said Dave Cote, assistant general manager of Western James Bay Telecom Network.

“Fort Albany First Nation members are excited about the quality and speed of this new service,” said Chief Robert Nakogee.

The initial service plan offers 250MB download speed and 30MB upload speed, with unlimited usage suitable for homes where multiple devices are used at the same time. For the first month, WJBTN doubled these upload and download speeds just to demonstrate to our new customers the capabilities of the new platform. Other plans are also available for homes with fewer occupants and appliances.

“The plan is to bring Attawapiskat First Nation and Kashechewan First Nation online this fall,” said Andrew McLeod of Canadian Network Services and Consulting Group (CNCSG) and Field Project Manager for WJBTN. “We could not have accomplished the installation of fiber optics in this community without the support of the team at Fort Albany Power Corporation who were behind this project 100% and worked so hard to make this happen. “

Andrew McLeod adds: “The speed at which data traverses the FTTH network is far superior to anything available in these communities today.

“We are very proud to see this goal achieved after 14 years of diligent effort,” said WJBTN President Douglas Kebokee. “This affordable and reliable connectivity will bring education, jobs and prosperity to our communities.”

“The FTTH Internet platform provides the economic springboard to amplify the skills and knowledge of our members to the rest of the world,” says Sally Braun, Managing Director. “We have completely exceeded the federal benchmark and our members have a world of economic and academic opportunity at their fingertips.”

WJBTN thanks these project partners for their continued support: Attawapiskat First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation, Fort Albany First Nation, Mushkegowuk Council, Attawapiskat Power Corporation, Kashechewan Power Corporation, Fort Albany Power Corporation, Five Nations Energy Inc. (FNEI), MORCOM Consultants, Canadian Network Consulting and Services Group Inc. (CNCSG), Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), Royal Bank of Canada, Aid Society Wakenagan Community Development and NORD-ASKI Regional Economic Development Corporation.

Background

The Western James Bay Telecom Network is the first 100% Indigenous owned and operated fiber optic backbone network in Canada. Bringing fiber home to the James Bay Coast has been the goal of WJBTN’s directors and staff since 2008, when the nonprofit was incorporated. WJBTN’s Board of Directors includes a director from Attawapiskat First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation, Fort Albany First Nation, Town of Moosonee, Moose Cree First Nation, Five Nations Energy Inc. and of the Mushkegowuk Council.

Project timeline

  • In 2014, WJBTN hosted a telecommunications roundtable that brought together local telecommunications operators, federal and provincial funding agencies, economic development officers, and First Nations leaders.
  • A 2015 technical study, funded by FedNor, NOHFC and WJBTN at a cost of $120,000, provided the final project cost at $4.7 million.
  • In December 2016, after consulting with stakeholders in remote and rural Canada, the CRTC declared Internet connectivity an essential service.
  • April 2017: WJBTN applies to the federal Innovation, Science and Economic Development fund Connect to Innovate for $441,000 and to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation for $2.3 million and to the Bank Royal of Canada for a bank loan of $500,000.
  • March 2018: WJBTN General Manager Sally Braun, Finance Manager Brian Nakogee and CNCSG’s Dirk McLeod announce to James Bay Coast communities on Wawatay Radio that the project is underway.
  • May 2018: WJBTN receives approval for a $500,000 loan from Wakenagun Community Futures Corporation and Nord-Aski Regional Economic Development Corporation.
  • January 2019: Materials ordered the previous fall arrive in Timmins and are shipped to communities by John Koostachin of JK Solutions.
  • May to December 2019: distribution cable installed in the three communities, beginning of the splicing of the shelters.
  • May to December 2020: work continues as COVID permits, including connecting the shelter.
  • May to October 2021: Distribution cable and home connections in Fort Albany First Nation are 100% complete and Attawapiskat is 40% complete.
  • January to March 2022: installation of shelter hardware and software, 13 test houses are connected to Fort Albany and 2 test houses to Attawapiskat.
  • April 2022: Launch of the Fiber to the Home Internet platform in Fort Albany First Nation.
  • October 2022: estimated launch of FTTH in Attawapiskat First Nation and Kashechewan First Nation.
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