A subsea fibre optic network project that will run from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii, then south along the B.C. coast to Vancouver is being refreshed after a COVID-19 slow down and the company transition to a new CEO, CityWest said in a news release on Oct. 13.
The Connected Coast project will construct and operate a subsea fibre-optic network to provide 154 landings at rural and remote coastal communities. This will permit high-speed internet opportunities to 13 Regional Districts and 56 Indigenous communities representing 44 First Nations, CityWest said.
The $45.4 million project was initially announced in January 2018 and is estimated to benefit more that 175,000 B.C. households with the laying of 3,400 km of subsea cable. Funding was provided in October 2019 by the Government of Canada’s Connect to Innovate (CTI) program, Indigenous Services Canada, and the Province of BC through the Connecting British Columbia program administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.
CityWest has recently entered into a joint venture agreement with Strathcona Regional District to carry fibre optic service to the Vancouver area. This same service will be available to coastal communities, Chris Armstrong, director of marketing for CityWest, told The Northern View.
“With this connection coastal communities will have access to a trunk or backbone data line that they can plug into which will allow them to have excellent services.”
“We are hoping to be in the water by the summer of 2021 and have it built by 2023,” Armstrong said.
Through the newly laid fibre optic lines Prince Rupert will have improved services.
There is currently only one fibre line feeding services from the east to Prince Rupert. This line was knocked out a couple of years ago creating lack of services for more than 24 hours, Armstrong said.
“If something like that happens, it is going to be a pretty impact on our customers. However, if we have the Connected Coast which goes to Vancouver, if something happens we can just switch over to the other side and keep services up and running.”
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that access to high-speed Internet is the key to our economic prosperity, health and safety. Through investments in broadband, we continue to open doors so all Canadians can stay connected with loved ones and participate in everyday activities online,” Maryam Monsef Federal Minister for Rural and Economic Development, said.
“We are supporting projects that will connect one million households across the country and have made billions available to connect even more. With this project, over 9000 households in coastal British Columbia will be better equipped to thrive in the digital economy,” Monsef said.