Keewaytinook Okimakanak

"The K-Net Development Process" presented at Telecom Policy Research Conference

The CRACIN team of Adam Fiser, Andrew Clement and Brian Walmark produced the following paper - The K-Net Development Process: A Model for First Nations Broadband Community Networks.

This paper was presented at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) September 23 to 25, 2005, held at George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Va. (click here for more information about this annual conference). 


The Kuh-ke-nah Network (K-Net) is a community network that currently comprises 60 First Nations communities across Ontario, and Quebec, Canada. K-Net Services is the telecom and ICT arm of Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council (the Northern Chiefs), an organization located in northwestern Ontario that brought the original vision of K-Net to life amongst the Tribal Council’s six member communities in the mid 1990’s.

Currently the telecom infrastructure under K-Net control comprises a C-Band Public Benefit transponder, IP video conferencing and telephony, web and email server space, and a variety of terrestrial and wireless links that effectively connect small, scattered First Nations communities with each other as well as the wider world. In the space of less than a decade, these K-Net communities have gone from a situation in which it was common for there to be but a single public payphone in a settlement, to the point where forty of these communities have broadband service to most households. This level of service exceeds that commonly found in large urban centres such as Toronto.

But K-Net is far more than a provider of basic carriage services. Rather than be a seller of products, it is a facilitator for First Nations organizations and communities. In this capacity it brokers relationships among various agencies to provide a wide range of public and civic services in remote communities (e.g. telehealth applications, Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet, the Keewaytinook Internet High School (KiHS), personal homepages and email addresses, video conferencing and webcasting/archiving of public events). It thus constitutes a (nearly) full-spectrum, vertically integrated service provider oriented to meeting the social and economic development needs of its primary constituents.

First Nations community ownership and control over local loops means that each community can adapt broadband services to address local challenges and priorities. For some communities, the priority is creating residential telephone access or cable plant for entertainment purposes, for others it is promoting education opportunities and public health online, and for others it is economic development. This aggregation of demand from disparate users creates economies of scale and allows the dynamic reallocation of bandwidth to meet social priorities (high school classes, remote eye examinations, residential connectivity). While a reflection of the technical savvy and political acumen of its initiators, K-Net’s success also derives from its adoption of core principles rooted deeply in the traditional First Nations values. This is seen in its decentralized structure, which encourages resource pooling, knowledge sharing, and respect for local autonomy. Together these values support community-driven needs and objectives to shape the network and its applications.

This paper traces the evolutionary trajectory of K-Net development and examines the advantages and drawbacks to the emerging model of telecom service provision in which K-Net is a pioneering exemplar. First, it chronologically charts the expanding set of relationships among the heterogeneous key actors across the public, private and civil sectors. Then it reviews the contemporary situation of K-Net, how the combination of such vital factors as community ownership/control, bandwidth aggregation and dynamic allocation, local (ICT) skills development, and social-needs orientation interact with each other and are operationalized within this network of relations. Finally, the paper draws some preliminary conclusions about the principles and viability of this model, likely future development, and the prospect that it offers a workable model for other community networking initiatives, especially in traditionally underserved areas.

Click here to read the 59 page paper (PDF document)

Chiefs of Keewaytinook Okimakanak meet in Thunder Bay

The Chiefs of Keewaytinook Okimakanak, as the Board of Directors for the organization, met together in Thunder Bay to discuss KO programs as well as community and tribal council matters. The meetings are taking place at the Landmark Inn (October 5, 6, 2005). Click here for pictures from the meeting

K-NET highlighted at Telecommunications Policy Conference in Washington, DC

KORI's Brian Walmark and CRACIN's Andrew Clement and Adam Fisner of the University of Toronto are presenting a paper on the development of K-Net at the 33rd annual Telecommunications Policy Research Conference in Washington, DC

KO team working with FedNor to establish broadband connections in First Nations

Keewaytinook Okimakanak's Kuhkenah Network (K-Net - is working with Industry Canada's FedNor and the First Nations SchoolNet programs and Health Canada to identify strategies to ensure broadband connectivity is available in every First Nation with a school or a health centre. This past week a number of First Nations along the highway 11 corridor were visited to identify contacts and building locations. A meeting on Friday with Northern Tel representatives resulted in some additional information concerning completing some of these broadband connections.

Kuhkenah Network presentations to Canada's Telecom Policy Review Panel

The three members of Canada's Telecom Policy Review Panel met with community champions in Whitehorse, Yukon on Friday, September 9. Brian Beaton, K-Net Coordinator shared two presentations. The first presentation addressed "Community Readiness for Broadband. The second presentation provided information about the "Lessons Learned after the introduction of Broadband Connections in Remote First Nations".

Information about this gathering and all the presentations are available on-line. Everyone is invited to share their stories concerning access to broadband in your community in the on-line discussion forum being hosted on their web site at

KO's Turning the Corner video production posted on Telehealth web site

The TURNING THE CORNER - EFFECTIVE USE OF BROADBAND video is posted on the KO Telehealth web site at Just click on the PLAY button on the video display window that appears to watch this video.

This video production was completed in March 2005 by the K-Net team, our funding partners (Industry Canada's FedNor, First Nations SchoolNet, and Broadband programs) and George Ferreira (producer - University of Guelph PhD graduate student). It has been shown in Ottawa to different federal government departments (click here to see the June showing KNEWS story about this showing and additional reference material about this work).

KO's work highlighted at CIRN 2005 in South Africia

Dr. Susan O'Donnell of the National Research Council (NRC) presented a paper on the founding meeting of the group, Research in Information and Communication Technologies with Aboriginal Communities (RICTA) that took place in Balmertown in March of this year. Susan attended the Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) Conference in South Africia this past week to do several presentations. 

The paper was co-written with Brian Walmark of the KO Research Institute. It outlines the activities of the founding meeting including the community visit to Deer Lake and the nation-wide video conference chaired and facilitated by Brian Beaton's K-Net Services Coordinator.

To learn more about the paper, go to the RICTA website. See the CIRN 2005 program...

Kuhkenah Network of SMART First Nations final report highlights broadband needs

The final report of the Kuhkenah Network of SMART First Nations presents the success story of the completion of this Industry Canada Smart Communities demonstration project. The report highlights the achievements, lessons learned, recommendations and how the work has grown beyond the original project goals and deliverables.

Click here for a copy of the 75 page report (860K - PDF) - This project officially began in April 2001 and end in March 2005. But it was in the summer of 1999 that the first Expression of Interest was submitted by Keewaytinook Okimakanak to Industry Canada indicating our interest in becoming Canada's Aboriginal Smart Communities demonstration project. The work continue ...

HIGHLIGHTED RECOMMENDATIONS (there are many other recommendations for communities and government contained under each of the project activities and within the final project evaluation that can be found at

  • Government investment in broadband infrastructure is required to ensure ALL First Nations are connected and able to access equitable on-line programs and services. Each remote and rural First Nation across Canada is unique and requires unique telecom solutions to accommodate local and regional opportunities. The goal to bring broadband connections into every community across Canada was initiated with Industry Canada’s pilot of the BRAND program. This goal remains incomplete due in part to inadequate funding. This goal must be reaffirmed by the Government of Canada with adequate resources to complete this task. The basket of "basic" services proposed by the CRTC must now be expanded and supported by the Government of Canada to include access to broadband and open network infrastructure as defined in the National Broadband Task Force report from June 2001.
  • Government must commit to purchasing their services from community networks as a vehicle to deliver on-line services with Canadians rather than creating new, parallel private networks that threaten the sustainability of the local community networks. Along with the use of community networks, governments must take a leadership role in the use of ICTs to conduct their business. It is not enough to provide government information on web portals. Government officials need to adopt IP-based information sharing and reporting strategies (voice, images), including internet protocol (IP) videoconferencing and telephone services (Voice over IP - VoiP) to communicate with citizens and clients. The most effective way to deliver a national program to expand connectivity and telecommunications in First Nations across Canada has been the creation of the partnerships involved with Industry Canada’s First Nations SchoolNet program’s Regional Management Organizations (RMOs). The RMO model has been utilized effectively to deliver a variety of national First Nation initiatives. The regional model has been pioneered by government internally to deliver economic development and e-community facilitation across Canada through regional agencies such as Industry Canada’s FedNor initiative.
  • For remote regions that want to control and own their networks, it's practically impossible to build a sustainability strategy based on traditional business and program delivery models. Rather, innovative and cooperative telecom policies and government programs are required to ensure equitable access and sustainable operation to the required infrastructure and applications.
  • Technologies like IP-based video conferencing and telephony service can provide much needed revenue while offering residents and subscribers an alternative to traditional independent services. To maximize value and revenue video conferencing must deliver TV quality images, requiring two-way symmetrical services. Watch out for salesmen selling non-symmetrical connectivity products and services that remove limited financial resources from the region.
  • Aggregate demand for video, voice, and data services across the community and provide an integrated solution to ensure a cooperative and sustainable local community network operation.
  • Establish revenue generating services such as local network management, technical maintenance and assistance, website and portal development and hosting. These services will be valuable to businesses and organizations across the community.
  • In order for a network to be sustainable in a small community, the community needs to be involved in all the development phases and ongoing operation as much as possible. This effort will ensure that all the local organizations and service agencies working with the community will be able to contribute to the ongoing operation and maintenance of the local network so everyone in the community can access these on-line services.
  • Government policies and programs are required to support the development of local capacity and provide equitable resources for the local operation of these telecom solutions. Developing and sustaining broadband infrastructure and associated services are necessary and essential components for a healthy economic and social environment in all Canadian communities. For the communities where private sector telecom providers will not venture due to inadequate markets, governments must intervene and provide the communities with the resources required to construct and sustain these community broadband networks that will support their required applications. Program processes including funding applications, monitoring and reporting requiring multiple government stakeholders and partners must be streamlined and less onerous for the community applicant and must better reflect the project risks involved to produce successful results with local and regional government support systems (such as FedNor and accounting firms for financial auditing purposes).
  • Locally deployed and operated telecom infrastructure and capacity building is essential to drive and sustain these communication tools for supporting local economic and social development opportunities. Investments in local human resource and skills development support the effective use of ICTs and broadband infrastructure by the people they are meant to serve. Strategic investments and supporting government policies and programs supports a healthy and growing environment that benefits all sectors of the Canadian society. These applications are required to support the ongoing operation of the community network and help pay the bills for the local services being provided.

NICSN partnership receives approval to move to next phase of Round 2 for NSI satellite funding

On Friday, August 26, the National Indigenous Community Satellite Network contact, Joe Lance of the Kativik Regional Government, received a letter indicating that the NICSN expression of interest for Round 2 of funding has been invited to proceed to the project development stage. The NICSN application is requesting two additional C-Band transponders to accommodate the various broadband applications being provided in remote Aboriginal communities across the northern parts of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. In total over 40 remote communities are to served by the satellite bandwidth being requested by NICSN from Industry Canada's National Satellite Initiative. For more information about NICSN, visit

National Satellite Initiative - Round 2: Notifications of Interest

This round of funding consists of $85 million managed by Infrastructure Canada to fund the acquisition of satellite capacity, and possibly common ground infrastructure, for satellite-based broadband projects in isolated and remote communities across Canada where satellite is the only practical means of providing broadband access.

Round 2 of the National Satellite Initiative received 27 notifications of interest in funding for satellite-based broadband projects. From the above link to the NSI site the details about each submission, including contact names and telephone numbers can be found. Industry Canada-Infrastructure Canada thanks all interested parties for their participation in this broadband initiative.

Manitoba partner prepares for C-Band satellite installation and operation

Keewatin Tribal Council's Ashmede Asgarali , Special Projects Officer, visited K-Net's office in Sioux Lookout to discuss plans for the installation and operation of the ten Manitoba First Nation C-Band satellite served communities. The construction of the two 2.4 m dishes and the local wireless network is now being completed across Northern Manitoba.

Keewatin Tribal Council and its ten partner satellite served First Nations are members of the Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network (NICSN).