Innovation in the West Koots gets a boost with underwater fibre optic cable & high-speed internet connecting Balfour, Kaslo, and points in between!
When faced with the inherent environmental challenges (mountainous and thickly forested) of connecting a 36-kilometre stretch of northern Kootenay Lake, rather than see it is an insurmountable feat, innovative thinking took hold: look to the lake!
Choosing to take the fibre optic cable underwater, the residents, businesses and local governments of the communities of Balfour, Kaslo and points in between, will enjoy faster and more reliable Internet services.
The project was managed by Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (CBBC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Columbia Basin Trust, and supported by the Province of British Columbia through the Connecting British Columbia program. At Balfour, the cable connects to CBBC’s fibre optic broadband network, which extends more than 800 kilometres throughout the Columbia Basin. The cable then terminates in Kaslo, where service providers can access the network and deliver connections to customers.
“I’m so proud that the Province was able to support this project and help Columbia Basin Trust and Kaslo infoNet Society bring reliable high-speed Internet to the residents and businesses of the northern Kootenay Lake area,” said Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims. “By continuing to connect more of our rural communities, we ensure that no matter where they live, British Columbians can access key services like healthcare and education and participate in our growing digital economy.”
To go by land, and the challenges the terrain presented, installing traditional Internet infrastructure was simply too cost prohibitive. The challenge was answered by Kaslo’s local Internet service provider, the Kaslo infoNet Society, who introduced the idea of going into the lake rather than around it. As a result of this out-of-the-box approach, the Kaslo infoNet Society and other providers in the area can connect their subscribers to the network through fibre optic and wireless connections and service speeds can be scaled to match growing consumer and business needs for decades to come.
“High-speed Internet is a game changer for families and workers in the communities of Kaslo and northern Kootenay Lake,” said Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall. “The completion of this project will help our residents grow their businesses and stay connected with the world. The positive effects of this work will be felt in the communities for many years to come.”
“The world relies on the Internet, from working to schooling to shopping; it’s essential our region’s small communities and rural areas have access to the same opportunities,” said Dave Lampron, CBBC, Chief Operating Officer. “This project is a significant benefit to the people in Kaslo and area, and it has also made us and others in the telecommunications industry rethink large inland bodies of water. They don’t have to spell the end of the line. Instead, they can offer affordable pathways to connectivity.”
Residents and businesses are already seeing the benefits of the improved service. At the Kaslo Hotel, for example, guests are enjoying their stays more because of what they don’t notice anymore: slow speeds and crashes.
“Everyone is carrying a device now, so it’s important in the hospitality business to offer reliable, fast Internet for our guests,” said John Eckland, owner of the Kaslo Hotel. “Not only is the connection faster than before, but it stays that way during weekends and other peak times. Before it would have crashed, upsetting our guests. Thanks to this improved service, we can offer a better guest experience.”
Improved experiences like these leave visitors with fonder memories of their stay, which may have positive economic effects into the future.
For economic reasons like these and higher quality of life, Basin residents have told the Trust that high-speed Internet is a priority to them. That’s why, through CBBC, the Trust is committed to making high-speed connectivity available throughout the region. Learn more at broadband.ourtrust.org.
Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1.800.505.8998.
Connecting British Columbia is a program funded by the Province and administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust to expand and upgrade broadband connections in rural and remote communities throughout BC. For more information about the program check out www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/connecting-british-columbia.