News

High-speed Internet Arrives for First Nations on Vancouver Island's West Coast

Hwy 4 Sept 22 2016 eventThe Province of British Columbia, TELUS, BC Hydro and All Nations Trust Company (ANTCO) are celebrating the completion of a new fibre-optic cable along Highway 4 from Port Alberni to the Ucluelet junction.

The new fibre connection has dramatically improved Internet and wireless capacity and alleviated congestion for many west coast communities.

The approximately $12-million investment will enable Internet service providers to offer upgraded high-speed Internet access while connecting many homes, schools, health-care facilities and businesses for the first time. Local schools, homes, businesses and First Nations government offices will now be able to run the latest technology applications and other web-based services such as video conferencing, e-learning and online banking. First Nations communities with health centres will also have the necessary bandwidth to partner with the First Nations Health Authority to run cutting-edge telehealth technologies, including remote consultations with medical specialists.

Seven First Nations communities will be connected to the fibre line through ANTCO’s Pathways to Technology connectivity initiative. Upgraded high-speed Internet is now available in the Toquaht Nation community of Macoah, with the others scheduled to come online by March 2017.

ANTCO, through its Pathways to Technology connectivity initiative, is working to ensure that all First Nations in British Columbia have affordable access to high-speed Internet service and that communities have the right support and training to take full advantage of their new connectivity. ANTCO contributed to both the fibre build as well as “last mile” infrastructure that will connect the new fibre network directly to Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations communities.

TELUS installed the fibre-optic cable and contributed to it financially in collaboration with the project’s partners.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation was also instrumental in championing the need for Internet upgrades in the region and worked closely with teams from Pathways to Technology, Network BC, TELUS and BC Hydro to make this connection a reality.

Through the #BCTECH Strategy, government’s goal is to see every British Columbian with access to high-speed Internet by end of 2021. The Province is working with other levels of government and the private sector to make this happen.

The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and productivity throughout the province.

In partnership with the BC Innovation Council, the province is hosting B.C.’s second #BCTECH Summit, March 14-15, 2017, with made-in-B.C. tech innovations, thought-provoking keynotes and outstanding networking opportunities. To register or learn more, go to: http://bctechsummit.ca

Quotes:

Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services –
“Ensuring all British Columbians have high-speed Internet access is a priority for our government and an important commitment in the #BCTECH Strategy. This new fibre connection will open up a world of opportunities for these communities to learn, do business, access the services they need and to stay connected.”

John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“This is about more than just a fibre-optic cable. Improved Internet access can be a catalyst, enhancing opportunities available to First Nation communities. In health care, education and economic development, B.C. is committed to working with our First Nations partners to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people.”

Anne Mack, Chief, Toquaht Nation –
"High-speed Internet for the Toquaht Nation is of the utmost importance at this time in our history. We are building our community from the ground up and this is one more stepping stone to achieving our vision of bringing our people back home. We can now look at building homes, businesses and our government house. Kleko! to Pathways to Technology for their intuition and commitment to all First Nations in B.C.!"

Paul Donald, CEO, All Nations Trust Company –
“Connecting local First Nations with high-speed Internet access will help them provide more education and training opportunities for residents, improve health care and public safety, and power up their economies. By working in partnership with communities and governments we can make sure all First Nations communities in B.C. have modern technology in place to succeed in today’s ever-changing digital world.”

Ray Lawson, TELUS general manager for Vancouver Island –
“This significant investment from TELUS and our partners has created immediate benefits for residents on the west coast of Vancouver Island that will be felt for generations. Along with supporting the local tourism industry and enabling businesses to compete in the growing digital economy, this new fibre line has connected many First Nation communities for the first time. Perhaps most critically, this new capacity and speed will give students access to the wealth of information available on the Internet, and will allow health-care providers to innovate how they deliver services, contributing to healthier, more successful communities.”

Greg Reimer, executive vice president, Transmission and Distribution, BC Hydro –
“I’m proud BC Hydro was a part of this important collaboration. The project is a win for everyone. Early in the project, BC Hydro re-invested in transmission infrastructure to allow our partners to bring high-speed Internet to the West Coast and Vancouver Island’s First Nation communities for the first time ever.”

Quick Facts:

  • The seven Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council communities being connected to this fibre-optic line through ANTCO’s Pathways to Technology initiative are:
    • Ahousaht (Ahousaht First Nation)
    • Anacla (Huu-ay-aht First Nations)
    • Esowista (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation)
    • Hitacu (Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation)
    • Macoah (Toquaht Nation)
    • Opitsaht (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation)
    • Ty-Histanis (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation)
  • The approximately $12-million project introduces a new fibre-optic line and replaces over 360 service poles.
  • To date, 197 First Nations communities have access to broadband infrastructure, 132 of which have last mile infrastructure in place to provide high-speed Internet to local homes and businesses.
  • More than 95% of British Columbians have access to high-speed Internet.
  • The B.C. government has committed to ensuring 100% of British Columbians have high-speed Internet access by end of 2021.

 Learn More: #BCTECH Strategy: www.bctechstrategy.ca

Posted: September 23, 2016