A submarine fibre optic cable expands the reach of high-speed Internet
The lakes and rivers of the Columbia Basin have connected the people of our region for centuries. These days, these waterways have become a new means of connection: as conduits for underwater cables that supply high-speed Internet to communities that otherwise might have to go without.
Because of its remoteness, the North Kootenay Lake area surrounding Kaslo has had to work hard to ensure residents have reliable access to this important service. The Kaslo infoNet Society (KiN) has been leading the way on bringing the latest in Internet service to the area for two decades.
“If better Internet can be brought here, it enables many services to come to us that would ordinarily be found in larger cities,” says KiN President Don Scarlett. “The Internet can be a key driver for economic development. It enables young people to come and stay here, and start families and do well.”
As part of its commitment to helping residents of the region fully take part in the digital world, Columbia Basin Trust first helped KiN bring basic fibre optic service to Kaslo in 2014 through its wholly owned subsidiary, Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (CBBC). KiN then decided to tackle the challenge of how to bring a faster connection to the community and other communities along the northern half of Kootenay Lake.
Scarlett and his team came up with the idea of laying 36 kilometres of fibre optic cable underneath Kootenay Lake. This would connect to the main CBBC network in Balfour— and provide a nearly limitless pipeline of Internet capacity to about 700 homes, from Ainsworth to Argenta.
KIN approached CBBC with the idea and CBBC stepped in to develop the project. It is using an innovative fibre design and new installation approach to laying cable under water, which will be more cost-effective than traditional underwater approaches or laying it on land. This method could also potentially be used in other areas of the Basin where going under water makes sense.
This project, which is also being supported by the Province of British Columbia, expands CBBC’s 800-plus kilometres of fibre optic broadband network, and will have “points of presence” (places where Internet service providers can connect to it) in Ainsworth, Loki Lots, Pine Ridge and Kaslo. Points of Presense in Kaslo and Balfour are expected to be complete by January 2018. Through these attachments, KiN will have the broadband capacity it needs to expand its local network and improve wireless service to meet the growing demand.
“It takes a certain amount of fundraising and technical expertise, which is what CBBC is giving us,” says Scarlett. “That is enabling us to bring massive bandwidth to a community that would otherwise have to make do with a very small allotment.”
For Tammy White, a photographer with a home-based business in Ainsworth, the new service is great news.
“We’re looking forward to having the speed increase and being able to send images to clients via the Internet versus having to deliver them,” White says. “I think it’s going to do wonderful things for our business and it will only improve with time.”
CBBC works to bring high-speed Internet connectivity throughout the Basin. One way it does so is through its regional high-speed fibre optic network. Leveraging funding from the provincial and the federal governments, CBBC has completed the design and permitting required for this project and is hoping to have the network constructed and completed by the end of November 2017, testing is expected to be complete by January 2018.
To see our network coverage map, click here.
To see more stories about our work, check out this year’s issue of Our Trust Magazine.