Open access

A task force trying to bring an open access network to the city says it has more than speed as its benefit.

The economic landscape of Rossland could change dramatically if a move to bring an open access network to the city is realized.

Also called broadband, the network would create a whole new economic platform that would support and encourage the fledgling web-based economy in the city.

It would improve speed and bandwidth for Internet users, said councillor Jody Blomme, who sits on the broadband task force, but it would also open doors to ooportunity in so many aspects of the city’s economy.

“This is the way business is being done now … and it is increasing,” she said about an open access network. “People get focusing on the faster network but don’t realize there is a whole other dimension to it.”

Better bandwidth and greater speed is a very good thing and would help a lot of people, Blomme noted, but an open access network has a whole other dimension that shouldn’t get lost in the argument.

The key unique benefit of the CBBC project is that they are connecting Rossland and other municipalities to an “open access network,” said Blomme, a fibre network that will allow business to flourish in the city. There are several differences between the current network scenario and the open access network model that would give business in the city a boost.

Right now in Rossland the physical networks are owned by private enterprise, by Telus and Shaw, but under the open access network the CBBC owns the network and municipalities have interminable access by an “Indefeasible Right of Use Agreement.”

The existing network owners in Rossland offer services only through their own networks and only a limited number of services are offered: Telus offers services of phone, Internet and sometimes TV, while Shaw has services of TV, Internet and sometimes phone.

In open access the network owner does not offer services, but opens access to the network to other service provider companies, including Telus and Shaw. Hundreds of services could potentially be offered by dozens of providers, including Internet, telephone, TV, accounting software and management, tech-support, security services/monitoring, data backup, database creation and maintenance and distance learning/teaching.

Local and regional businesses cannot offer any services on the existing networks. In some rare cases, very limited access is offered but difficult to come by, said Blomme. However, local and regional businesses have access to the open access network and can offer their own services on this network.

“Essentially, this creates a whole new marketplace or platform upon which a new branch of local and regional economy can be built,” said Blomme.

And it opens up the market. Shaw and Telus form a ‘duopoly’ right now with very little competition in the marketplace and little incentive to reduce price or increase services in quality or quantity.

An open access network would increase competition resulting in increased service quality, Blomme noted, with decreased cost to consumer and increased consumer choice and satisfaction.

The CBBC’s open access network model offers significant value for people from the perspective of both local and regional consumers and local and regional entrepreneurs, she added.

“The open access network offers opportunity that would not otherwise be accessible and can become a key element of local economic self-reliance,” she said.

But the appealing feature of an open access network for most people is bandwidth. Right now bandwidth is based on and limited by decades-old technology of telephone copper lines and coaxial cable lines. An open access network has extremely high bandwidth based on long-lasting, technology-flexible fibre that can be upgraded any time with new electronics.

The open access network would include about 20 times faster than current download speeds achievable in Rossland, and about 100 times faster than current upload speeds.

It will also allow better, more reliable connectivity to transfer data files and to use with POS systems and other communications such as internet telephone, video conferencing and webinars.

In the current phase of the project being considered, City Hall, municipal buildings, and Rossland’s downtown core (Columbia Avenue between St. Paul and Spokane, and Washington Street adjacent to Sourdough Alley) would be connected to the network. All businesses and residences within this build-out plan would be offered the opportunity to access the network.

For more information visit the Rossland Broadband website