Revelstoke’s wait for true high speed Internet may be finally over.
The City of Revelstoke announced this morning that Telus will be connecting more than 90 per cent of homes and businesses in Revelstoke directly to fibre optic cables — a move that will make Internet speeds of up to 100 megabits per second available to customers.
“Revelstoke is thrilled to be selected for this project and we’re especially happy that it’s coming at no cost to the municipality or its citizens” said Mayor Mark McKee. “We recognize that fast internet connection speeds make a community more attractive, and that we have to stay competitive in this area to attract visitors, residents and businesses to our community. We’re grateful to Telus for their investment in our community and helping us to achieve our goals.”
Revelstoke has been hampered by slow Internet in recent years, with the network’s capacity unable to meet demand at peak hours, particularly in evenings during the winter, when the town is full of residents and visitors browsing the web. The rise in popularity of streaming video services like Netflix has compounded the situation.
“I think historically the copper-based network Revelstoke has had over the years has been challenged to keep up with the growth in demand,” said Tony Geheran, the president of broadband networks for Telus, at a meeting in council chambers with several senior Telus managers and local politicians.
Also there from Telus were Bert Braybrook, the general manager for the Kamloops region; Clare Adams, the senior market manager for Revelstoke; and Zouheir Mansourati, the vice-president for broadband implementation. Representing the City of Revelstoke were Mayor Mark McKee, councillors Aaron Orlando, Linda Nixon and Gary Sulz; and acting CAO Graham Inglis.
Telus approached the City of Revelstoke about a year ago as part of their nation-wide roll-out of broadband into smaller communities that began in 2013. In B.C., Salmon Arm, Sechelt, Gibsons, Armstrong, Oliver and Osoyoos were connected in the first year. More communities were hooked up last year, and Revelstoke is part of this year’s roll out.
The City of Revelstoke signed a memorandum of understanding with Telus last year to ensure the roll-out went smoothly. The investment is being made without any cost to the taxpayer.
“We try to get a year ahead for the communities we want to go to so all those processes out of the way and we can start the build as soon as possible,” said Geheran. “There’s no obligation on the city’s party. They city hasn’t made any obligation to Telus that they wouldn’t to any other service provider. It’s a open collaborative relationship.”
The matter was a poorly kept secret until today’s announcement.
Telus’ plan is to roll out fibre-optic broadband cable into each home and business in the City of Revelstoke and small portions of the rural area over the next year. The 90 per cent figure given in the press release is a hedge agains the fact that some people might opt not to connect, said Geheran.
The network will be installed in stages. The community has been divided up into 11 “fibre service areas.” As the cable is extended to each area, sales people will be knocking on doors to sell people on the new services.
The connection is free, and residents are under no obligation to sign up for Telus services, said Geheran. Telus expects existing subscribers to upgrade and new subscribers to sign on as they roll out the broadband.
Customers will be able to sign up for Internet speeds of 15, 25, 50 or 100 megabits per second. Rates start at $58 per month at the lowest end, to $88 per month for 100 mbps Internet. The cost of television will depend on what options the customer chooses, and there are packages available.
“Most would elect to take a higher speed Internet service,” he said. “They’ll probably elect to take Optik TV service because the features are pretty good.”
Everyone should be hooked up and able to to sign up for broadband by early 2016. A microsite at telus.com/revelstoke will be set up so people can find out when their neighbourhood will be hooked up.
Geheran said this amounts to a $7 million investment.
“This is going to open up a lot of doors for businesses and residents to enjoy broader connectivity,” said McKee. “It’s going to offer opportunity for people who want to enjoy our lifestyle, move here and run their home-based business.”
Revelstoke Cable subscribers will remain on the cable network. General manager Tracey Buckley said they would be installing new equipment in the coming months to improve bandwidth. At that point they’ll be re-branding, re-marketing and re-packaging their offerings.
“I’m hoping we’ll have more than adequate bandwidth in the next month or two in Revelstoke,” she said. “At that time we want to give customers options.
“Our approach is to have high-bandwidth Internet, but at good prices. Of course, with your local support with Revelstoke people in an office available to help customers.”