Initial due diligence and discussions with Northwestel hinted at a very expensive build, possibly putting fibre optic connectivity out of reach for this community of 250 people. However a strategy was arrived at which would see NorthwesTel connect the First Nation community of Halfway River and the nearby non-native village of Upper Halfway.
"The ability to create economies of scale through a larger project, and the willingness of NorthwesTel to meet "halfway” on the total build costs, brought the project down to a level that made it financially feasible for the Pathways fund,” said Greg Hazel, Pathways to Technology Project Manager.
Work proceeded without delay and by the end of January each of the 70 homes and 20 businesses in Halfway River were able to enjoy high-speed Internet service. Both communities now have the option of subscribing to a reliable, high-speed service instead of the existing satellite service.
"We extended the fibre-optic cable network from Highway 97 into the heart of the community, installed electronic access equipment and constructed a local access plant that connects the fibre line to customers’ homes or businesses,” said Christiane Vaillancourt, spokesperson for Northwestel.
The fibre-optic connection provides customers with the ability to download music and videos, use social media websites, communicate via teleconferencing and all of the options available to those living in other major Canadian cities.
The advantage of broadband service extends beyond casual web surfing too. Whether taking online university classes or conducting business through electronic commerce and banking, the residents of Halfway River are no longer bound by the speed of their Internet connection.
Northwestel also provides a 24/7 support website for information related to configuring, using or troubleshooting the new online services.