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City fibre optic network could soon bring faster internet to Nelson businesses

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The fibre optic cables that have brought faster broadband internet to city buildings will soon be available for Nelson businesses to link into.

Nelson council has approved extending the city's fibre service to private businesses as a revenue generating opportunity. Connection fees and rental rates were written into bylaws at a special meeting in late October, but the city hasn't started advertising this new service.

According to city manager Kevin Cormack there's still details that need to be worked out. For example, there needs to be internet service providers interested in offering the broadband service on the fibre network — the city will only be providing the fibre not the actual internet connection.

Ideally local internet companies like Columbia Wireless and Net Idea will come on board to provide the internet through the fibre, Cormack explained.

"They'll be able to have their equipment set up at our co-location facility, in our building here at 310 Ward Street, where all the fibre lines connect to," Cormack said, noting the internet companies will pay a one-time fee ($250) and a monthly rental rate ($500 to $800, depending on the amount of space they need) to operate out of city hall.

Most of the smaller internet providers don't own their own cables — they rent them from a company like Shaw or Telus. The city is suggesting that companies could rent from them instead.

Next businesses will sign up to have a fibre line come into their establishment. Again, the city will charge a one-time fee ($750+) and a monthly rental rate ($150 for a 100 Mbps connection or $300 for 1,000 Mbps).

The end result is an extremely fast internet connection, about 10 times faster than most high-speed plans can offer. For local technology companies that do most of their work online, it's a dream come true.

Kormack said he's already heard from about 10 businesses interested in joining the fibre network, despite the city trying to keep it fairly low profile until all the pieces are in place.

"We need to take it step by step to make sure it's successful," Kormack said, noting the city will let the public know when it's ready to start offering the service. "It's an exciting opportunity … we're looking forward to getting it out there."

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