Greenland’s digital gap on its way to being bridged | Polarjournal
The new Amazonas Nexus satellite covers the entire American continent, the North Atlantic corridor, and Greenland. Image: Thales Alenia Space

Greenland is bridging the digital gap on the island, separating the inhabitants of the north and east, who are not served by the submarine cable network, from those in the west and south who benefit from a high-speed Internet network.

Since February 6th, the telecommunication company Tele Greenland has taken a decisive step in the networking of Greenlanders. The company has participated financially in a space mission that has just successfully sent a satellite into space. Amazonas Nexus is reaching its stationary orbit over the North Atlantic and the American continent. It belongs to the Spanish operator Hispasat, and will be connected to the Greenland telecommunication network.

Tele Greenland signed a cooperation agreement with Hispasat to provide a stable broadband Internet connection to the 8% of Greenland’s population that did not have one before. The island has fifty-six thousand inhabitants. “This way, children can learn English more easily,” says Tele Greenland. But not only that, as the bandwidth will also be open to the mining companies in the region for their own use. At this time, seven active licenses are open, including the Aappaluttoq ruby mine. The device will also improve the current rescue system in the most remote areas.

This step follows the construction of a receiving ground station in Tasiilaq in 2020, then in Ittoqqortoormiit in 2021 by Tele Greenland, as well as a third one in Qaanaaq, by Skybrokers, a Dutch telecommunication operator. This will allow these three regions to receive stable broadband connection by late summer or fall of 2023.

KNR is the Greenlandic media that produces radio and television programs from its headquarters in Nuuk. It will also take advantage of this network extension to broadcast its programs. Image: Martin Chemnitz

Tele greenland director Kristian Reinert Davidsen said in a press release, “We are doing our best to ensure that areas of Greenland are covered by satellite connections when they are not covered by undersea cable, and thus can have stable connections, even though satellites are more sensitive to wind and weather conditions.” This connection will improve education, health and access to government services for local people as well as recreation, according to the director.

The digital gap is not only a matter of geography, but also of socio-economic level, both in terms of income and education. A mobile package with 20 gigabits of digital data is sold for 67 euros today, in a region where the GDP per capita is fifty thousand euros, slightly more than in Germany. “We are experiencing a digital revolution,” explains the Tele Greenland spokeswoman. This could be another step towards the emancipation of a nation, or the arrival of new foreign economic actors.

Amazonas Nexus was launched by SpaceX from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida. This satellite was built by the French and Italian companies Thales and Leonardo. Hispasat owns and operates the satellite, which complements the ground coverage of another satellite in its fleet, Amazonas 2, which covers the 61st degree of west longitude. It will give Hispasat access to new customers and new markets for services in the air and maritime transport sectors. Far beyond the borders of Greenland.

Camille Lin, PolarJournal

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