Telus will spend $20 million to bring fibre optic network to 90 per cent of homes and businesses in Nelson within the next year, a company executive announced Thursday.
“This will get Nelson ready for future wireless technologies such as 5G,” said Telus’s Ben Bajaj.
“We have been working closely with communities to make the West Kootenay one of the most connected regions in North America,” he said, adding that “Nelson could become BC’s own version of Silicon Valley.”
In attendance at the press conference in Nelson were Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall, provincial Minister Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims, a number of local local tech and economic luminaries, and four Nelson city councillors.
“The new fibre will offer equally fast upload and download speeds and a connection that will not slow down when all your kids are online,” Bajaj said. “It will offer solutions such as telecommuting, cloud computing, managed IT services.
“It will enable customers to download a full HD movie or upload hundreds of high resolution photos in mere seconds and that is just the beginning.”
In an interview after the presentation, Nelson city councillor Keith Page gave the Star two examples of the economic advantages of the new fibre.
“If I am an engineering firm and I have a factory in Salmon Arm and I am connected on fibre, I am going to be able to do my designs — and these will be very heavy files — and send them back to manufacturing, and get a quick turnaround because I am not going to wait four hours for it to go somewhere.
“In the film industry they were shipping containers off via Purolator because that made more sense to get the data there …. this will open things up to everyone: you will be able to do your documentary in Uphill and send it down to California for sound editing and instantly get it out there and get it back. The turnaround time on content creation is going to really open up doors.”
“Telus’ commitment to high-speed Internet for Nelson is great news,” said councillor Rik Logtenberg. “New technology like self-driving cars and virtual reality require the faster speeds and lower latency. Having these speeds will help set us up for the future.”
Nelson is one of the last communities in the West Kootenay/Boundary to be served by Telus fibre, following previous installations in Castlegar, Grand Forks and Trail.
Nelson’s cable will not be restricted to the city but will extend to Taghum and up the North Shore to Willow Point, Bajaj said.
Last week the provincial government also announced funding to allow the Columbia Broadband Corporation to lay 125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable from north of Nakusp to the Playmor Junction, bringing fast Internet service to more than 20 communities and the rural areas between.