The City of Nelson is making bylaw changes that will make broadband fibre available to more people.
There are three main changes: fibre will be available to residences as well as businesses, it can now be shared between multiple units in one building, and the bandwidth cap will be increased. There are related fee changes as well.
“Until now you were required to have a business licence to use Nelson fibre,” says the city’s Allison Sutherland, “and so one of the reasons (for this change) is that we have some customers like the school district and colleges where a business licence is irrelevant, and we have non profits who want to use the service.”
She said the movement toward residential service is driven by the Nelson Commons development, other downtown multi-use buildings, and the live-work spaces envisioned for Railtown.
“In multi-unit buildings they can choose to share the fibre,” she says. “That makes it more cost effective. Once it is in the building, people can work with an internet provider or sharing provider to use the fibre. Before, we could not legally serve the residents in that same building even though the fibre was already there.”
The third change is that the current cap of 100 or 1000 MB per second will be expanded to a choice of 1 to 10 Gbps.
The city provides “dark fibre” (fibre optic cable) to a number of facilities and buildings in the city including city hall, the regional district, schools, and the Tenth Street campus. The fibre is provided as a utility, using Nelson Hydro poles and conduits.
The biggest public misunderstanding, Sutherland says, is about the roles and responsibilities of the various players.
The city charges a connection fee and a monthly fee but provides no service beyond bringing the cable into the building. Business owners or residents, once they have purchased the use of the fibre from the city, must contract with an internet service provider or a networking provider to “light it up” and provide whatever service the customer needs within the building.
What the services look like, and the arrangement for providing it, can be very building-specific, Sutherland says.
For example, “a ‘customer’ can be a private single customer withing a building, it can be a building owner, or it can be an internet service provider that is managing a sharing arrangement between different people who want to share the fibre in the building. So a building owner could bring the fibre in, and just like they share other types of utilities like water and sewer, they could share the costs among their tenants for the construction and the connection to the building.”
“It can be a complicated setup,” Sutherland adds, “and it is important for people to understand who they are paying and what they are paying them for, and what services are available.”
The amended structure for monthly fibre rental recognizes different types of customers is as follows:
• $150 for commercial
• $100 for public sector/institutional/educational, non-profit and residential
The new structure also covers buildings that contain multiple units (whether residential or commercial) to permit the ability for sharing of service within the building:
• $200 for up to 1Gbps bandwidth
• $400 for up to 10Gbps bandwidth.