With Inuvik residents at home during the COVID-19 pandemic — and using more internet than before — New North Networks is now providing unlimited internet plans.
New North Networks has been in Inuvik since 1996, originally operating on a cable system. It was the first internet provider in town.
The company recently upgraded their bandwidth, making unlimited plans possible.
“People are at home a lot more and people are using more bandwidth and having greater requirements,” said Tom Zubko, president of New North Networks. “We decided to put in place unlimited options for people who want to watch a lot of movies or do a lot of gaming that takes that extra bandwidth, without costing an uncontrollable amount of money.”
Zubko said the company recognized the threat posed by the novel coronavirus in mid-January, and the impacts it could have on the world.
He said they began to prepare for additional requirements for the community. They had already ordered new equipment to get additional bandwidth before it “became really obvious that it was going to be a bit more of an explosion than we had anticipated.”
Zubko said they were able to upgrade their bandwidth from the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link quite quickly, and tie it into the rest of their system in Alberta. The fibre optic line started to come online late in 2016, which allowed some communities across the N.W.T. and the Beaufort Delta region to get higher internet speeds.
Unlimited plans for families stuck at home
Zubko said that the offerings range from basic to super user, and that this is the first time an unlimited internet plan has been offered in the community.
“It was certainly something that people were going to need trying to survive on a couple of hundred gigabytes when you are at home with a bunch of kids all the time is virtually impossible,” he said.
The unlimited plans include Unlimited 25, which offers 25 mb/s downloads and 10 mb/s uploads for $167.60 per month, and Unlimited 50 at $218.40 for 50 mb/s download and 10 mb/s upload speeds. Both plans have no data caps.
“That means people don’t have to worry about going over their limit halfway through the month or part way through the month. That seems to be quite popular,” said Zubko.
“The uptake has been really good, usage has gone way, way higher than anybody could possibly afford under the old system that was available to them.”
Northwestel, the largest internet provider in the North, has temporarily removed overage fees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zubko said the new unlimited plans from New North Networks are permanent.
As people do use more internet, Zubko reiterates that the company doesn’t charge people for going over their limit even on other data-limited plans. Instead a client’s internet will slow down when they reach their limit on bandwidth. They can then call the company to get a different plan or buy additional bandwidth per day.
Zubko said since they are a local company whose employees all live in town and it serves one community, “our interest is the same as the people of the town, so when there’s a problem we go out and solve it … and it’s always served us pretty well.”