City council has approved establishing affordable access to high-speed Internet for all downtown businesses.
Council, at its Monday meeting, endorsed an immediate start to a Municipal Broadband Network in order to have it up and running in late summer of 2017.
Ron Bowles, the city’s corporate services manager, said that will put Campbell River ahead of the game.
“The advantage of starting now is that you will be the first on the Island to have a Municipal Broadband Network,” Bowles told council. “But importantly, for businesses looking for great places to live and great places to do business, we want them to choose Campbell River and you have that opportunity to start today.”
The system will allow local businesses and non-profits located near the network to apply for access to high-speed Internet at a more affordable rate.
There is increasing demand for high-speed access as traditional industries like forestry or mining have to transfer large amounts of data like 3D renderings, detailed maps and other geographic information.
Bowles said the implementation of a Municipal Broadband Network is a proven method used by rural centres to substantially reduce the cost associated with broadband delivery and provides a positive stimulant for economic development.
Council, recognizing the opportunity, voted to allocate $25,000 from this year’s council contingency budget for marketing the $353,000 project which will be funded through the city’s Community Works Fund, as well as a $50,000 grant from the Island Economic Trust.
Mayor Andy Adams said the city will also pursue provincial funding and that by council putting up its fair share of the project costs, the city should be “in a good position for shared funding.”
Coun. Colleen Evans said it will be worth spending those dollars in order to get ahead on promoting the service and giving Campbell River a leg up on other Island communities.
“The importance of us moving forward and having that advantage means that it’s wide-spread awareness of Campbell River,” Evans said.
She added that the project also aligns with one of council’s strategic economic development priorities and investing in such a system shows council is honouring its commitment.
“This allocation would really enable us to demonstrate that we have city council priority commitment,” Evans said. “It’s such an important project for our community.”
The project will be established in phases with the first phase extending the city’s existing fibre network to allow completion of a fibre ring that will provide the capacity to deliver enterprise level broadband services.
With an open access broadband network, multiple Internet service providers will be able to use municipally-owned infrastructure to provide services to businesses, therefore eliminating substantial build costs that are typically passed on to the consumer.