A high-speed fibre optic network may soon be coming to Rossland thanks to help from the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Columbia Basin Trust.
Columbia Basin Broadband’s goal is to bring better high-speed connectivity to the Basin. To do so, it continues to improve and expand its regional network. Until now, communities have had to develop their own local networks, which would then be connected to Columbia Basin Broadband. While a handful of communities have had the capacity to complete this work, others have run into issues, from lack of funding to lack of technical expertise.
“This project in Rossland is an example of how Columbia Basin Broadband is evolving in response to the needs of communities,” said Neil Muth, Columbia Basin Trust president and CEO. “Columbia Basin Broadband plans to develop, fund and own the local network in Rossland. We’ll use this learning opportunity to decide whether this is a viable option for us to undertake in other basin communities.”
Rossland was selected in part because it has a dedicated task force of citizens and municipal government that has been working with Columbia Basin Broadband for over two years to bring broadband into the community and exploring a project that would entail connecting business and municipal facilities.
“We are delighted that Columbia Basin Broadband is prepared to take on this project in Rossland,” said Mayor Kathy Moore. “Like other smaller communities, Rossland has struggled to contribute to building this infrastructure; however, we know the value it can bring to driving economic development by attracting new residents and businesses, and allowing existing businesses to do more with new and faster internet services.”
Moore added, “At this point Columbia Basin Broadband is going to be doing a feasibility study of what makes sense. Originally the plan was to have broadband go through the downtown and up to the water treatment plant. A big loop through the city.”
Initially the focus will be on delivering the broadband to businesses. Residential services may follow later down the road.
Columbia Basin Broadband would build and own the fibre optic network infrastructure and then invite internet service providers to operate on the network. Over the next few months, the company will complete key projects.
“This is groundbreaking really,” Moore said, “because it was going to be a thing the city picked up ourselves. The installation costs were going to be around $185,000. This way, they will install, own and operate, and the city will just be a customer.”
She said this is perfect because the city does not have the capacity nor expertise to run a broadband network such as this one.