Rossland residents urge pursuit of broadband

Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (CBBC) gave a presentation to council on the benefits of opting into fibre optic broadband network.

Mark Halwa

Is there a hunger for higher internet speeds in Rossland?

It certainly seemed like it in council Monday, judging from the positive remarks that four members of the public, each involved in online business, told council.

The support came as the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (CBBC) gave a presentation to council on the benefits of opting into the Columbia Basin Trust initiative to offer fibre optic broadband options to the basin.

Mark Halwa, from the CBBC, explained that there was a reason that internet in regions such as this lag behind the population centres and it comes down to where it is most logical for companies like Shaw and Telus to invest.

The rate of return is too low in places like Rossland and so the internet speeds will always lag behind.

“We can, through some of the fibre that we own, and buying connection and working in partnership with Shaw and Telus, bring better connectivity to what we would call world class, which would be about 100 mb/s access.

Halwa said that at the moment, as a reference, most Rossland homes operate at 2 to 4 mb.

“Our connection would be 100 mb and we can increase that over time,” he said, adding that the most expensive part is the feeder fibre, the long haul lines that connect communities. CBBC already owns some 80 km of fibre in the basin.

“That fundamental layer is the most expensive layer and we already have about 80, 85 km of that and we’re looking to do various things and get more, for Columbia Basin Communities.” he said.

The CBBC would take care of that, as well as the advanced equipment to manage the network. They plan on giving open access to this tool to all parties, including Shaw and Telus.

“When we take the most expensive layers and let others use them, then it becomes a little more cost effective,” Halwa said.

The CBBC service would cost the city 1,250 a month and includes compliance with CRTC requirements, 100 mb connection, video conferencing unit, use of network management equipment and “all the internet you could possibly use.”

The least costs option is to connect only the city office. From there the city could extend to other municipal buildings, the school and then residents.

Amber Hayes spoke to council about  welcoming the CBBC.

“I’m a virtual worker, so I use the internet and all of its large infrastructure to do that,” Hayes said, adding that there are now over 60 per cent of information technology workers making over $70,000 year who have the ability to chose to live wherever they want, with the only requirement being a fast, consistent internet connection.

She argued Rossland would be a perfect candidate with that addition.

“I just wanted to come here and voice my anticipation and pleasure at seeing opportunities that are coming forward to the Columbia Basin,” she said.

Brian Fry, has lived in Rossland since 1964, other than 12 years where he was out in Vancouver and California to start his technology career.

“What I wanted to say today is that I’ve had a great opportunity living in Rossland and I managed to start a company in 2001 that has now become Canada’s largest cloud service provider,” Fry explained.

He said companies are relying more and more heavily on cloud-based services, which in turn rely on broadband and so what the the CBBC is offering is an incredible opportunity for Rossland to get modernized internet at a reasonable price.

“If these employers don’t have access (to the cloud) then they are not going to bring that business to your community,”

“The internet that we have now is not broadband, it’s a pretty good service, but it’s not going to stand the test of time,” he said, as services are already pushed to the limits with bandwidth heavy services like Netflix and bittorent downloads.

He said it is a very important topic that should be taken seriously.

Lisa Wegner said it would give her the ability to work out of her home.

“It’s far more beneficial to be proactive than reactive,” she said.

Rossland council has asked city staff to prepare a report on the subject.

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