Important infrastructure is now in place
Janet Williamson and her husband spend as much time as they can in the East Kootenay town of Kragmont, where they work remotely thanks to solid access to high-speed internet.
Williamson works as a remote pharmacist, while her husband needs to stay connected to his environmental companies in Calgary and Edmonton. Add visits from their young-adult children and their internet demands shoot up even more. Happily, their service has been able to keep up. “We’ve been able to pretty much do anything we need without a worry,” Williamson says.
Recently, the Trust added 185 kilometres of fibre optic cable to its broadband network in the Basin, including in the South Country—where the Williamsons are laying roots—and up the Slocan Valley to north of Nakusp. Internet service providers can then hook up to this backbone to improve the speed and quality of their service.
Tough Country Communications is the Williamsons’ provider. It connected a few additional towers in the South Country to the network. “Customers were able to get the benefits right away from the improvement,” says Paul McLean, President. “The new infrastructure allows all our customers to get a faster, more reliable connection to the internet. Since we see more customers using the internet for both work and pleasure, we can now better answer the demands of our customers in the South Country.”
Columbia Wireless will also link to the network, up the Slocan Valley. “This will increase internet speed to all of our existing customer base considerably, and allow us to offer fibre speeds to whole communities where we couldn’t before,” says Ben Leslie, Chief Executive Officer. “Students could stay at home and do college online, without having to move away,” he offers as an example. He has also heard of patients who could manage their conditions by connecting to their doctors online. “It will give everyone a nice, local advantage.”
People in the region have told the Trust that high-speed internet is extremely important to them, which is why the Trust is committed to improving access to it. Two more fibre backbone projects are under way: between Fruitvale and Nelson (via Salmo) and between Kimberley and Wasa, where the Trust is installing another 100 kilometres of fibre. Once these sections are complete—and considering the Slocan Valley and South Country additions—an estimated 8,080 households could benefit from improved connectivity.
Williamson is glad to be one of them. Before, simply streaming movies was difficult, never mind doing important tasks. Now, “We don’t have any challenges with that. It’s been great.”
More access on the way!
The Trust is working hard to bring connectivity to as many underserved households in the Basin as possible. This takes a lot of partners, know-how and funding. The projects it’s developing will improve connectivity to thousands more homes and allow for speeds of at least 50/10 megabits per second. They will significantly improve access to high-quality internet across the Basin. Check out the Trust’s online map that shares its network area.