Original Published on Aug 17, 2022 at 10:53
By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Northern Sunrise County council was presented on Aug. 9 with a proposal from i-Valley to conduct an assessment for feasibility and potential installation of broadband in its municipality.
This presentation comes on the heels of various broadband funding announcements that have been made both federally and provincially.
i-Valley co-founder Barry Gander says the benefit of a network like they are proposing is that it involves everyone in the community and that it benefits everyone. It also offers the prospect to having a return on investment to the community via the telecom sector.
“The return on investment from a network like this for the community is at least tenfold,” he says. “Community therefore has control over how the broadband is distributed.”
The company’s approach would be to utilize all the different types of technology available for connecting all the homes in the region. They are working with multiple companies and individuals to find the most cost-effective way to provide the best service to residents in remote areas.
Councillor Art Laurin, who sits on the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) committee, says the county needs a staged approach to providing the best possible internet service to residents.
“They’ve been successful in acquiring UBF funding and Connect to Innovate grants totalling in excess of $12 million for other municipalities,” says Laurin. “What I like about i-Valley is they’re not limited like the service providers are to only one option or another, or just a selection of them. Our geography, our lay of the land here requires a multitude of approaches, we need all technologies to make this work.”
Once the company established a baseline, developed a strategic implementation plan, and created governance models, they would then (if approved by council to proceed) help the county apply for funding and then would help to get the network set up and operational.
Councillor Dan Boisvert added that the UBF committee not only met with i-Valley, but multiple other companies who were offering to find a solution to internet concerns for people throughout the entire county.
“This is where we can grow and have a vision for the future for our community,” he says. “Sometimes when you live in a small, rural area when there’s a lack of services, you create, and you build, and you operate.”
Deputy Reeve Corinna Williams made motion to go into the first step of process, without going into a full ownership, so council can make a decision on next steps once all the information is gathered.
This item reprinted with permission from South Peace News – southpeacenews.com, High Prairie, Alberta