Community Forum discusses Rossland’s High Speed Future
Representatives from Rossland’s Broadband Task Force held a community forum on Tuesday evening to inform and converse with the public about the options for installing broadband infrastructure in the town. Three different options were presented, all with varying pros and cons. A decision will be made by City Council at their September 23rd meeting.
“Broadband is high speed, it’s bigger infrastructure, and it allows a lot more data through,” said Amber Hayes, task force member and co-founder of AdventureEngine.com. “What we’re looking at bringing here is up to 100 megabits per second (mbps) up and down (uploading and downloading).”
Broadband is a physical structure, a small fibre made of glass. The City of Rossland, supported by the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (CBBC), will be laying in this infrastructure. Internet service providers (ISP) will then use the infrastructure to provide internet packages to customers. Because the infrastructure won’t be owned by telecommunications companies, it will be an open access network.
“An open access network separates the carriers of the infrastructure from the services, and by doing that you remove the conflict of interest, and by removing that conflict of interest, you now have access to hundreds and hundreds of different service providers, and that makes all the difference,” said Brian Fry, Senior VP and Co-founder of RackForce.
Right now, the broadband fibre is already in Rossland, the hub being at the former Maclean Elementary. The first option would be to bring it down to Columbia to a conduit that was put in underneath Columbia Avenue and bring it in to City Hall. CBBC will pay for the installation, and the only cost will be the $1063 monthly fee. The broadband would only service City Hall.
The second option would bring the fibre along poles through the back alley behind the stores on the north side of Columbia Avenue, to connect with City Hall. About 35 businesses would have the ability to connect to the broadband. The installation would cost $63,000 initially, but the revenue that could be made if 25% of the 35 business connect to the broadband would bring the monthly cost down from $1063 a month to $5 a month.
The third option would see the fibre be run on poles through that back alley to City Hall, and then up through a few neighbourhoods, to end up at the water treatment plant. Any business or residence along the route could connect. The initial investment would be $156,000, but the City would end up making $859 a month, with a return on investment of 15 years. The cost could be less, with the successful application for grants.
The presenters heard from a couple of community members who have recently moved to Rossland, and were told they simply can’t be connected to the internet. In their cases, neither Shaw nor Telus could connect them, the reason being their networks are over capacity. A couple other audience members said not being able to connect to the internet would affect their decision to move here, highlighting a problem with the current system.
So far, Kaslo, Revelstoke, and Trail have already signed on for this service. It was pointed out that the task force has been working with the City of Rossland for over a year, and funding is in the budget for this project, so there will be no taxpayer impact. The community has a chance to provide feedback about the different options during the public input period of the City Council meeting on September 23rd. City Council will approve one of the options at that same meeting. More information can be found on the Rossland Broadband Initiative’s website.
“The economy is directly connected to our broadband,” Fry said. “The reality is, in the future, the ability to communicate is what it’s going to take to grow our economy.”