In the past, Bella Bella relied on an outdated wireless network to deliver Internet to the community, a service that was be prone to service interruptions and unreliable connections. That changed in April, when Pathways partnered with the Heiltsuk Economic Development Corporation to provide broadband access through the cable system to every home and business in Bella Bella – launching the largest project yet for the Pathways team.
"It’s an exciting step for Pathways, and an excellent example of how adding high-speed Internet to a community can revitalize both social and cultural activities, and also the local economy,” said Greg Hazel, Pathways Project Manager.
"We are connecting more than 420 homes and a dozen local businesses with this high-speed upgrade,” said Waglisla Internet Manager Victor Jackson. "Not only will the new system have major benefits for our customers, but it will also allow our company to better manage accounts and troubleshoot the problems that arise.”
By retrofitting the Waglisla Cablevision plant, the Pathways team was then able to tap into the existing cable network, and provide an Internet signal to those already receiving television coverage – similar to services in many of British Columbia’s metropolitan cities.
Now Waglisla Cablevision is able to offer a wired broadband system that is more
robust, reliable and capable of handling the demand of the growing community. The First Nations-owned and operated company is already seeing a positive reaction from existing customers, and is eager to pitch the upgraded services to potential clients throughout Bella Bella.
"The response so far has been fantastic,” said Jackson. "In fact, we’re having trouble keeping up with the requests for hookups, so that’s a nice problem to have!”
From online education courses, to streaming videos and downloading music, the community’s residential Internet customers are stepping into a new world of online opportunity. Heiltsuk Economic Development Corporation staff and partners are also tapping into the new high-speed connection, and using the improved broadband to make online connections through video conferencing.
With the help of Pathways, the Heiltsuk people and their businesses are now better equipped to keep pace in the digital world, and have the modern broadband technology to ensure their online connectivity for many years to come.