Gulf Island residents and businesses will be better able to access faster Internet speeds, thanks to the B.C. government's $126,750 investment in a new connectivity project that will soon get underway by Beacon Wireless Inc.
Local Internet service provider Beacon Wireless will match the Province’s funding for a total investment of $253,500. The provincial portion is being provided through the Connecting British Columbia program, administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.
Approximately 1,000 rural households and businesses will have better opportunities to learn, do business, access services and stay connected through four new radio tower sites that Beacon Wireless will construct. The towers will connect unserved areas of Gulf Island communities and improve connection speeds for areas with existing coverage; they will also be shared with local emergency services to improve safety. Beacon's project complements other Internet improvements being made by other Internet service providers operating in the region.
Particular areas of the following communities will benefit from this investment: Gabriola Island, James Island, Moresby Island, Pender Island, Penelakut Island, Sidney Island, Thetis Island, and Valdes Island. In addition, smaller islands near and including Coal Island, De Courcy Island, Gooch Island, Hudson Island, Piers Island, Ruxton Island, the Secretary Islands, and Wallace Island will also benefit.
This project expands Beacon Wireless’ initial $268,500 Gulf Island connectivity project, which the Province is also funding $134,250 to improve connectivity on Salt Spring Island, Galiano Island, Mayne Island, Reid Island and Genoa Bay.
Connecting British Columbia is a multi-year grant program funded by the Province and administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, to support new and upgraded backbone and last-mile infrastructure projects in rural and remote communities in B.C. to drive innovation, regional growth and the creation of new jobs. The program can be used for new Internet connections and to upgrade existing Internet connections, for local Internet infrastructure builds and for new pathways.
As part of its Rural Economic Development Strategy, the Province recently announced a further investment of $40 million to the Connecting British Columbia program for a total of $50 million, to help regional Internet service providers, Aboriginal organizations, local governments, and other organizations to expand or enhance Internet connectivity in currently unconnected and underserved areas of B.C.
This additional funding aligns with the province’s #BCTECH Strategy to bring the province closer to 100% high-speed connectivity and help eligible B.C.-based Internet service providers leverage the new federal $500-million Connect to Innovate program to maximize funding available for rural connectivity projects.
Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure –
“We’re helping more rural and remote communities learn, access services and stay connected. There is a direct relationship between connectivity and a strong economy; our $126,750 contribution will help Gulf Island businesses better compete, enable residents to connect with the world and provide opportunities for students to access online education.”
Joel McKay, Northern Development Initiative Trust CEO –
“Northern Development is proud to partner with Network BC to bring broadband connectivity to the province. The investment in this infrastructure is important to communities within the Gulf Islands to support their economic diversification strategies by connecting more than 1,100 customers to high-speed Internet. This connectivity will provide opportunities for local business growth, service delivery and improved quality of life.”
Siegfried Luft, Beacon Wireless Inc. president and owner –
“This funding will allow us to construct four new radio towers, bringing more coverage and faster connection speeds to the Gulf Islands. In addition, we are committed to working with emergency services to improve radio coverage throughout the region, by co-locating on our towers.”
- Under the Connecting British Columbia program, nearly $10 million has been allocated to more than 25 projects that will improve or expand Internet services in over 200 communities around the province.
- To date, more than 40,000 households have benefited from the Connecting British Columbia program.
Connecting British Columbia program: http://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/business-development/connecting-british-columbia
#BCTECH Strategy: http://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca
Rural Economic Development Strategy: https://bcjobsplan.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/21/2017/03/BCRED_Strategy_FINAL.pdf
Beacon Wireless Inc.: http://www.beaconwireless.ca
Northern Development Initiative Trust: http://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca
Interactive and searchable map showing broadband availability in B.C.: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/communications-technology/internet-in-bc/network-bc-connectivity-map