Internet capacity OK for short term

  • Mar. 21, 2012 11:00 a.m.

The latest upgrade to internet service on the islands is meeting current demand, but is not adequate to meet continued growth, according to Paul Daniell, GwaiiTel administrator. Mr. Daniell was reporting Wednesday to the annual general meeting of GwaiiTel, cooperatively owned by all communities on the islands, and said that a new, independent radio link with the mainland will be needed soon, while in the longer term, it’s time to start thinking about an undersea fibre optic cable. GwaiiTel will hear from the federal and provincial governments about its application for funding for the radio link, but has started talking about the undersea cable. “A fibre investment is a very large scale, a very expensive investment,” Mr. Daniell told GwaiiTel directors and members, “When you look at the whole business plan, a minimum of $3 to $5 million (is needed) but it could be $10 or $20 million,” he said. But coming up with that kind of money is not going to be easy. “When you start talking numbers that big to serve 4,000 residents, it’s hard to present a business case that will fly,” Mr. Daniell said. Earlier in his presentation, Mr. Daniell noted how internet use has expanded on the islands, from less than 450 homes and businesses served in 2006 to more than 1,400 today. As well, usage has gone from 2 to 45 Mbps per month, as islanders use more and more services that eat up bandwidth.Mr. Daniell told the group that GwaiiTel recently reached a deal with Telus to increase capacity to 70 Mbps, although it had hoped to have 100 or 150 Mbps available this year. “This has been the subject of much discussion, debate and confrontation,” Mr. Daniell said of his dealings with Telus, “and has been going on for nearly three years now. We have got to the end of what Telus is prepared to do.” GwaiiTel is planning a special members meeting in July to discuss restructuring along with business and planning options. “Restructuring GwaiiTel is an absolute necessity to meet longer-term needs, to ensure all needs can be tied together in a new business plan to serve (the) communities for 5, 10, 20 years,” Mr. Daniell said, ending his presentation. GwaiiTel operates a community-owned high speed network, and wholesales capacity to local service providers in each community on the islands. Its revenue in the 12 months ending August 31, 2011, was $231,389, up slightly from the previous year. Expenses were $203,721 during the year, with income from operations at $27,669. GwaiiTel is composed of the following;Directors-Jack Litrell, Ron McKee, Tanu Lusignan, Evan Putterill, Mike Racz.Members-mayors and chief councillors of municipalities and band councils. Paul Daniell is the group’s administrator.

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