13 Yukon First Nation development corporations buy fibre optic infrastructure from NorthwesTel

·2 min read
Fred Koe, chair of the Da Daghay Development Corporation and spokesperson for the Yukon First Nations Telco LP, and Northwestel president Curtis Shaw announced a $10 million deal in Whitehorse Thursday. (Mike Rudyk/CBC - image credit)
Fred Koe, chair of the Da Daghay Development Corporation and spokesperson for the Yukon First Nations Telco LP, and Northwestel president Curtis Shaw announced a $10 million deal in Whitehorse Thursday. (Mike Rudyk/CBC - image credit)

A consortium of 13 Yukon First Nation development corporations is getting into the telecommunications infrastructure business.

The newly-formed Yukon First Nations Telco LP bought $10 million worth of fibre optic infrastructure from Northwestel and agreed to lease it back to the telecom over the next 20 years.

The companies made the announcement at the Arctic Indigenous Investment Conference in Whitehorse on Thursday.

Northwestel will make regular payments to Yukon First Nations Telco LP to use the fibre optics, and will also operate and maintain the network at its own cost, for the next 20 years. The payments will guarantee Yukon First Nations Telco LP a return on its investment.

"Nothing from a residential customer standpoint changes. Really, [First Nations are] going to own the assets and they're leasing it back to us," said Northwestel president Curtis Shaw.

He said the deal is a way to improve investment in telecommunications in the Yukon.

"I think this is really important and really groundbreaking that we're now stepping up into infrastructure," said Fred Koe, chair of the Da Daghay Development Corporation and spokesperson for the Yukon First Nations Telco LP.

"First Nations people own [the infrastructure] and it's going to open the doors for other projects and it's going to open the door to possible ownership of Northwestel. I see a lot of good things coming out of this agreement."

Fibre optic in all Yukon communities by end of 2023

The fibre optic infrastructure Yukon First Nations Telco LP purchased is the technology that delivers high speed internet to homes in Yukon communities.

"It's the last kilometre or two kilometres or three kilometres of fibre, all the work we've done inside a community," explained Shaw.

So far, Northwestel has installed fibre-to-home optic cable in Dawson City, Teslin, Watson Lake and Fort Liard, N.W.T.

Shaw said that over the course of the next year, the company will be installing fibre optic cable in Beaver Creek, Destruction Bay and Haines Junction.

The company said that it will have installed fibre optic cable in all Yukon communities by the end of 2023 except for Old Crow, which will receive faster Internet speeds through improved satellite service.

The 13 Yukon First Nation development corporations that form Yukon First Nations Telco LP are Carcross/Tagish Management Corporation, Carmacks Development Corporation, Chief Isaac Group of Companies, Chu Niikwan Development Corporation/Chu Níikwän Limited Partnership, Copper Nïïsüü Limited Partnership, Da Daghay Development Corporation, Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation, First Kaska, Kluane Dana Shaw Corporation, Na-Cho Nyak Dun Development Corporation, Selkirk Development Corporation, and Vuntut Gwitchin LP/ Vuntut Gwitchin Trust.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting