The provincial government, through the Northern Development Initiative Trust, and ABC Communications are bringing high-speed internet to Deka Lake, Clinton and Wells. There will also be improved coverage for Sulphurous Lake, according to the Ministry of Citizens’ Services.
However, it’s not entirely clear what speeds residents will see.
Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services wasn’t sure what packages would be offered for Deka Lake, Clinton and Wells noting that, “How it’s going to be packaged is not really within the purview of the government. That really depends on the provider.”
The ministry followed up, noting that “The province’s Connecting British Columbia program has been updated to adhere to the new CRTC criteria, which requires download speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps).”
Further adding that “Questions about packages offered are best directed to the internet service provider, ABC Communications.”
While the packages on offer will vary by area, their complete range of packages has download speeds in the range of 3 Mbps to 25 Mbps, according to ABC Communications.
That is short of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s target of 50 Mbps.
“That’s why we’re making sure that any builds that are taking place now have that future proofing built right into it,” according to Sims.
She noted that the communities are receiving slightly different services with Wells and Deka Lake receiving LTE A and Clinton receiving Fibre.
The total cost is $945,530, up to half of which is funded through the Connection British Columbia which saw $16 million available in July 2018.
The investment will see the capacity for speeds of up to 50 Mbps to approximately 650 households and businesses, of which 200 are in Deka Lake and 327 in Clinton. According to the province’s Connecting British Columbia program, completion will have to be demonstrated by March, 2020.
A similar announcement was made in April 2017 when it was announced ABC would be connecting 2,700 rural households and businesses in 100 Mile House, Lone Butte, Gateway, Canim Lake, Sheridan Lake, Interlakes and Horse Lake with speed packages of 3 Mbps to 15 Mbps. Although it was noted that the systems would be scalable to 50 Mbps.
“In my Ministry, we also see it as a foundational piece to support small and medium businesses, local businesses, tourism economy and to diversify and grow the economy.”
The minister wasn’t sure whether the project announced in April 2017 was completed, as that was under the previous government. She says, however, that the exciting part is that three small communities are going to have access to services they didn’t have before.
“Our goal is to connect all communities with high-speed internet because I know that just like in the old days we looked at the importance of railroads to connect regions and communities, today the fibre highways are the new railroads of the 21st century.”
In the instance of Deka Lake, the Connecting British Columbia contributed $78,862, $334,108 for Clinton and $59,794 for Wells.
Falko Kadenbach, vice-president of ABC Communications emphasized the importance of the investment in light of the wildfires and flooding in recent years.
“Throughout the past two summers, British Columbians have been challenged by natural disasters. ABC Communications, along with many other service providers, provides a lifeline to many residents in rural B.C. during these events. Programs like the Connecting British Columbia program play an important role in making these services available, affordable and reliable to British Columbians.”
Paul Kao, owner of the Round Up Motel in Clinton says having reliable high-speed internet will help keep guests at the motel happy.
“Most people realize, because it’s a small town, they cannot expect much for internet service. But still some people, like foreign visitors from Europe or elsewhere, sometimes they won’t understand. If people complain that the Wi-Fi is slow, that’s not a good thing for my future business. So if I can provide good internet service to my guests that will definitely be good for business.”
Graig Millin, owner of RPM Hockey in Deka Lake echoes that sentiment.
“My business is year-round. It’s a complicated business. It runs as far north as Chetwynd, Dawson Creek and Mackenzie and as far south as the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. I deal with people in Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish and Coquitlam — all over the province. Virtually everything is done online. We market, we advertise, we accept registrations, we process and pay bills,” he says. “Of course, when the internet fails or goes down for two or three days, it creates all kinds of problems for me. Everything from trying to connect with my clients to processing customers to making sure that my service is running properly throughout the province. I end up flying blind for a day or two. If the internet goes down, my website goes down. My clients rely on my website. There’s no doubt high-speed internet will not only grow my part of the business, it will make us more efficient and also keep our clients happy.