More than 1,200 homes in seven First Nations communities and three towns along Highway 3 in the Similkameen now have access to high-speed internet services.
“Connectivity has become essential to doing business in today’s world, and we are working hard to ensure all of B.C.’s rural and remote communities have access to high-speed internet,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “This project will ensure residents of the Similkameen have the tools they need to learn, do business, access services and stay connected.”
The project delivers last-mile fibre to the home, bringing high-speed connectivity for the Lower Similkameen Indian Band communities of Alexis 9, Ashnola 10, Blind Creek 6, Chopaka 7 & 8, and the community of Chuchuwayha 2 in the Upper Similkameen Indian Band, as well as the towns of Cawston, Hedley and Olalla.
“The upgrade to connectivity for the Similkameen area will support people, businesses and communities in their ability to work, learn and stay healthy with reliable high-speed internet,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development and MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to reliable, high-speed internet for all people – whether it's for safety, for health care or for economic development. We know how these needs are especially important in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.”
The Province invested up to $3.7 million through the Connecting British Columbia program. The grant, administered through the Northern Development Initiative Trust, was used toward the $5.8-million total cost of the project to upgrade the connectivity infrastructure for areas along Highway 3. The remaining $2.1 million for the project was contributed by internet service provider Telus Communications Inc.
“The Upper Similkameen Indian Band was very grateful to be a part of the Telus Pure Fibre project. Our people, business and surrounding communities will truly benefit from having high-speed internet as it has given us the ability to communicate during these unprecedented times and for many years to come,” said Chief Bonnie Jacobsen, Coun. Mike Allison and Coun. Charlie Allison. “We would like to thank Telus and the Province for providing us the opportunity to all stay connected.”
The 10 communities in Similkameen along Highway 3 were previously served via a fixed wireless network delivering maximum internet speed at 25 megabytes per second. The installation of a new fibre optic cable for each community will now allow the service provider to offer speeds of up to 1.5 gigabytes per second – a significant upgrade for connectivity that aligns with the quality of internet speed in more urban areas throughout B.C.
“We are proud to have worked alongside the Province to connect over 1,200 premises along this stretch of Highway 3 to our PureFibre network,” said Tony Geheran, executive vice-president and chief customer officer, Telus. “This will provide residents and businesses the internet capacity they need to stay connected, operate businesses locally and compete globally, and access services like health care from the comfort of home.”
The Province’s investment toward this service upgrade project is part of StrongerBC under B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan to protect people’s health and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.
Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc
Northern Development Initiative Trust: https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia/
StrongerBC: B.C.’s Economic Plan: https://strongerbc.ca/plan