Internet signals ready for a big boost

  • May. 19, 2015 5:00 p.m.

By Rhonda Lee McIsaacHaida Gwaii ObserverThe GwaiiTel Society has been approved for a $161,000 grant to boost the bandwidth for Internet users dependent on radio signals. The grant, from the Northern Development Initiative Trust, under the Economic Diversification Infrastructure Program, is given to projects aimed at the construction of public multi-use facilities or capital investments that drive revenue and job creation, as well provide a long-term asset for the community. “They’ve added broadband to the program in acknowledgment of how important the Internet is to economic development,” GwaiiTel Chair Carol Kulesha said. “Communication is key.”A key aspect of the first-time application by GwaiiTel Society was that it aimed to create a significant telecommunications improvement to broadband Internet users on Haida Gwaii. The grant will be used to support the purchase of a second radio set connecting Mount Hays to Old Massett and a system-wide caching server for Haida Gwaii. “When the Internet goes out [on Haida Gwaii], it can be for a while,” Director of Economic Development Dean McKinley said.Ms. Kulesha says there are many variables to consider when Internet fails on Haida Gwaii, particularly with the radio signal. “If it’s a radio problem, we have to get to Mount Hays and get up to Mount Hays.”The second set of radios also has another bonus in that it doubles the available bandwidth for users on the island.The caching server would help free up bandwidth when users are downloading updates for their phones and software. The caching server would store the updates on island and would not have to be relayed across the Hecate Strait to Mount Hays. “It frees up some bandwidth,” Ms. Kulesha said. All of the upgrades are expected to be completed by the end of 2015.”This is one big part of our infrastructure development and we’ve put in two other grants that we are awaiting the result of,” Ms. Kulesha added. “It’s a stand-alone project that improves service to Haida Gwaii. It also strengthens GwaiiTel’s $7.6-million application to the federal government’s Digital Canada 150 program, a federal government program aimed at increasing the nation’s digital connectivity by the country’s 150th birthday in 2017.

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