Internet service on the islands is going to get a whole lot better starting next summer, as the Gwaii Trust’s broadband project gets going.
At a meeting in Port Clements last week, Gwaii Trust chair Miles Richardson outlined the group’s plans, telling community representatives that the broadband infrastructure should be in place and ready to be hooked up next summer.
The $1-million project is being paid for equally by the Gwaii Trust and the federal government, and should bring islanders’ internet service up to the standard that residents of major cities like Vancouver enjoy.
The key to the project is increasing the ‘bandwidth’ between Masset and Prince Rupert. All telecommunications leaving the islands go through a radio link from Masset, and its capacity is the bottleneck. Immediately after the upgrade, that capacity will be increased more than seven times, and it can be upgraded more in the future.
That will allow all islanders to access high-speed internet services at affordable prices. It also will pave the way for other services not currently available, such as cell phones.
A community-based management company will be created to operate the system, and it will sell its services to retail internet service providers such as the Masset-Haida TV Society in Masset and qcislands.net in Queen Charlotte, as well as any others who may be interested.
The system will be “Â…state of the art in functionality and pricing,” said Paul Daniel, project manager for the Gwaii Trust. He said anyone using dial-up internet now will see a huge increase in speed, from 26 kilobytes per second to 10,000. And because of the system’s capacity, everyone who wants the service will be able to get it and use it. Internet users now using high-speed service will not see much of a difference, Mr. Daniel said.
Aside from the greatly increased radio link to Rupert, the system will have one tower in each community to distribute the high-quality signal. “It’s called ‘lifeline grade’, good enough for 911 service,” Mr. Daniel said.
The Gwaii Trust’s Haida Gwaii broadband project originally got started three years ago. It had a couple of objectives, including enough capacity to make it accessible to islanders, and affordability. “Â…We are delivering on that,” Mr. Richardson said.
He also said once it’s up and running, the Gwaii Trust will withdraw.
“The Gwaii Trust’s role in this, once the capital is put in place in the next few months, we will be working with islands’ communities to develop an operating company whose primary purpose will be to operate this infrastructure,” Mr. Richardson said.
Construction of the system is expected to begin this fall, and will not be affected by the current Telus strike/lockout, according to Mr. Richardson.
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