ESIS provides essential service to the East Shore

Local internet service provider taps CBBC to connect community.

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Local internet service provider taps CBBC to connect community.

An hour drive and a ferry ride away from Nelson, the East Shore Internet Society (ESIS) is a non-profit ISP serving the East Shore of Kootenay Lake. It covers approximately 45 kilometres, from Sanca to near Riondel, and a small portion of the west side, including Woodbury Resort. It currently serves over 500 customers, and that number keeps climbing.

ESIS was poised for growth even before the pandemic, due to a “natural need for internet access,” says Fraser Robb, a director on its board. “Virtually everything we do today depends on some form of reliable online interaction with others.”

The pandemic, however, sped up this process as people were forced to turn to connectivity for work, socialization, medical appointments and everything in between. “The pandemic forced more people to move their daily business online,” says Robb. For ESIS, this meant an evident increase in data usage and bandwidth by its customers.

While larger centres have long been well connected, it’s these smaller communities that would have fallen into the gap even more during the pandemic, if it weren’t for local ISPs. “Connectivity is key to the survival of small communities such as those in our service area,” Robb says. “Families and businesses must have high-speed, real-time access to the world at large today—more than ever before. And the need is growing.”

The pandemic has highlighted the need for quality internet connection in smaller communities, which Robb says is certainly becoming an essential service. “It has become as essential as access to power.”

For over four years, ESIS has been a CBBC customer, which has enabled it to strengthen its communities by bringing in essential connectivity. “We are not a large organization and are somewhat dependent on the experience and guidance of others, such as CBBC.”

With this guidance, ESIS can return this knowledge into the community and act as a leader in the field through seminars and by fielding questions to guide subscribers towards achieving greater benefit from the internet.

“If CBBC hadn’t taken the initiative to provide a high-speed network,” Robb says, “many people around here would still be living out of phase with the rest of the world today.”

CBBC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trust, created to improve connectivity in rural areas and communities in the Basin. Improving connectivity is important so that all people can fulfill business needs and access education, news and entertainment, among other services and opportunities. Connectivity is the window to the rest of the world.

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