The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) celebrated Rossland’s new fibre optic network and broadband service last Wednesday at the Rossland Public Library.
The network was developed, funded and is owned by the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (CBBC), a wholly owned subsidiary of CBT. Representatives of CBBC were on hand to answer questions and to demonstrate the speed of the new network by way of a speed test.
“The Rossland Broadband Task Force I think has been promoting and trying to get a network in the community going back to 2011 [or] 2012,” said Aimee Ambrosone, chief executive officer for CBBC. “The actual construction was started this past fall — fall of 2015 — and was wrapped up, but the actual planning in the community [was over a] much longer time span.”
A speed test showed that the new broadband network is significantly faster than the previous network.
Before the library started using the new network, the result of the ping test — which shows how long it takes a packet of data to be sent to a server and then back again — was 178 ms. On the 100 mbps symmetrical service network being demoed at the launch, the ping test result was 1 ms. Download speed on the previous network was somewhere around 5 mbps and upload speed was around 0.5 mbps. A test on the new network showed a download speed of 93.63 mbps and an upload speed of 94.32 mbps.
The library also contributed to the broadband network by allowing a side room to be used for the point of presence, “where all of the fiber comes back to that location” and where the electronic switch is, with each port on the switch representing one business.
The mayor attended the launch and was very excited about the possibilities presented by the new network.
“I think it’ll benefit Rossland hugely because anyone who has a business within that corridor will now have access to broadband, so it’s going to exponentially help their productivity and they’ll be able to offer all kinds of new stuff that they couldn’t offer now,” said Mayor Kathy Moore.
The CBBC is also work on a two-year wireless initiative that would benefit rural residence in the Columbia Basin.
“Basin-wide we’re partnering with 12 rural wireless ISPs to upgrade their infrastructure,” said Ambrosone. “We’re getting funding from the federal government, from the provincial government, from regional districts and from the Trust to improve service in rural areas up to 5 mbps speeds, and that will impact rural Rossland.”
During the launch, Moore also mentioned that better broadband would allow Rossland to attract more tech businesses whose employees can work from nearly anywhere and could be attracted to Rossland by the lifestyle.
Asked how these potential employees would benefit if they can’t yet access the same network at home, Ambrosone said, “Part of the answer is that that federal project …, the one that will improve service to 11,000 rural households across the Basin Boundary region, means great opportunities for at home, rural, remote workers.”
Introducing further infrastructure to expand the broadband network would be a significant financial investment and Ambrosone said it’s a matter of priorities.
“We’re already invested in a very significant way, so to make that additional investment means that we have to prioritize it over other things,” she said. “We’re already working to bring broadband to as many rural households as we can, trying to bring it to downtown cores, so adding that next piece is just a really significant investment that would require our boards approval and would require that kind of priority over other priorities.”
While the new broadband network is largely subsidized by the CBT, service providers will pay a wholesale cost for access to the network so that the CBT can make back a small part of its investment. Service providers who attended the launch wouldn’t give an idea of their price range, but business owners who are interested can contact them for a quote.
Those who sign up before April 8 will receive a free connection from the Rossland network to their business or organization. Visit cbt.org/rosslandbroadbandmap to see a map of the service area.