Fibre optics project still in the works

  • Nov. 19, 2010 1:00 p.m.

All seven communities on Haida Gwaii will have access to fibre optic cable for broadband and video conferencing services soon. Close to $1 million is confirmed for Gwaii Tel’s broadband upgrade project and contractors are now getting work underway. Gwaii Tel administrator Paul Daniell said the project was delayed because he had been waiting for the contracts to be finalized. “We haven’t been able to crank this up until we had agreements ready,” he said. As for when it will all be done, “it’s a as soon as possible situation.” The project includes a new fibre optic line between the Queen Charlotte village office and the Skidegate Fire Hall POP site. Mr. Daniells said there will be relay points along the way, including to Spruce Point and the QC Wharf. Some unserved areas of the QC will get access with this upgrade, including the north side of Hippie Hill. The fibre cable will also link to Misty Isles Television Society, which will allow them to upgrade and eventually offer the internet over cable TV. “This won’t be immediate, but they will be able to expand their network in the future,” said Mr. Daniell. Mr. Daniell said businesses and residents will also be able to connect directly to the fibre services, while the trunkline is being built through internet service provider, qcislands.net. Sandspit already received a fibre optic connection and this is helping to expand capacity for more internet services, he says, especially over the cable TV system. In Tlell, the fibre will run from the POP site at Wiggins Road to the firehall and then to the wireless site at the Crow’s Nest store. Mr. Daniell says GwaiiTel is also working in partnership with qcislands.net to create a new wireless site at Beitush Road. In Port Clements, fibre service will go into the Multiplex and again GwaiiTel is working with the service provider to create new wireless sites to extend coverage in the community. In Masset and Old Massett, the locations have not been finalized, but there will be fibre installed there as well and GwaiiTel will work with the local service providers and MHTV. Tow Hill is also set to get a wireless relay site. Skidegate is also getting more wireless sites to expand the coverage in that community. Fibre optic cable will be extended to Skidegate Heights and a wireless link built to Sandspit, which will consolidate and improve service with MITV. Mr. Daniells says the service providers will be investing money in these upgrades as well, and he wants to remind islanders that Gwaii Tel does not provide service to end users. “The ISPs own all the equipment that provides connections to the end users,” he said. The fibre, on the other hand, is a public asset. Mr. Daniell said fibre optic service runs up to 100 times faster than the maximum wireless service – typical wireless speed is 1 MB per second and fibre optic is 100 MB per second. “We’re trying to upgrade the capacity so not only the hospital and the provincial government have access to these services,” he said. High quality video conferencing, which is like real time high definition TV, can save islanders travel costs, for going to meetings and for medical appointments, he said. “There is millions spent in medical travel every year,” he said. College students can also have access to better distance education opportunities. Funding for the project has come from the Province’s Network BC and Connecting Citizens Grant program ($350,000), a matching grant from Broadband Canada ($350,000) and the Rural Economic Diversification Initiative of BC ($200,000).

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