The History of GwaiiTel
In 2006, GwaiiTel incorporated as a non-profit society, in order to bring Internet connectivity in Haida Gwaii out of the dial up stage and into the modern era. The society's first project was to build a broadband Internet network that would service the largest communities on the islands.
When Haida Gwaii needed more capacity, GwaiiTel applied for grants. Between 2010 and 2012, with the financial assistance of Gwaii Trust, federal, and provincial grants, GwaiiTel built a 125km radio link. This link is one of the longest in North America, and it bridges the gap between the mainland and the northernmost community of Old Masset. From Old Masset, the connection is distributed through Points of Presence (POP) sites across the islands and by radio link to Sandspit. The Internet then travels to households via Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Through this project, the capacity to transmit to the mainland increased from 70 to 360Gbs. This project made service available to an additional 889 households.
As of 2015, GwaiiTel owns 15km of fibre connecting two POPs with three additional POPs using leased bandwidth, and Sandspit's radio link was upgraded from 10 to 70. Coverage is 1,299 customers and almost none of them have 5d1u service. The current subscription base is approximately 69% of 1870 households.
In 2016 GwaiiTel went back to its’ funders and began a construction project that will dramatically improve internet connectivity, speed and reliability through the installation a fibre optic backbone connecting the islands' population. This fibre will extend the fibre currently in place, connecting Masset and Skidegate with handholds and splice points at key locations. This will allow for further connectivity, repair and growth.