by Andru McCracken
New funding from the Province could help deliver blazing fast Internet to more people in the Robson Valley.
Local wireless Internet provider Monashee Communications will apply for funding that was recently announced by the provincial government which could translate into better local Internet speeds.
“The digital pipeline runs right through here,” said Sean Jigolyk, chief technology officer for Monashee Communications. “We just want some access to it.”
Monashee Communications took over from Robson Valley Internet Company about six months ago and is getting rave reviews from early adopters, notably for much faster upload speeds than offered by the area’s main Internet provider Telus.
Jigolyk called the funding announcement really important.
“The upgrades we need to do to offer blanket service is cost prohibitive,” he said.
Jigolyk said rural people should enjoy the same bandwidth at the same price as Canadians living in major cities.
“The infrastructure is here. If the major players work with us we can deliver that last mile,” he said.
The last mile refers to the connection between the Internet and people’s homes; many homes outside of municipal areas can only be served by their wireless service.
Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizen’s Services said that Internet service providers will be eligible to apply for the funding to improve connectivity in rural, remote and Indigenous areas in BC.
“This is a great opportunity for locally-driven connectivity projects that will make a real difference in the lives of people living and working in rural and remote areas,” said Sims.
Applications for the funding will be accepted midsummer.
The program is being delivered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.
The Northern Trust’s CEO Joel McKay said the funding will strengthen the regional economy.
“Thank you to the Province of British Columbia for continuing to support connectivity in rural and remote communities,” he said.
Jigolyk said that help from the Northern Trust has been awesome and he’s pairing it with support provided to the area by the Columbia Basin Trust.
“We’re here to expedite the opportunities,” said Jigolyk, “and we’re good at what we do.”
Regional District Director Dannielle Alan said the improvements are important to the valley and something local Internet-based businesses have been calling for. She said people living in more remote areas haven’t had great access.
“Any kind of improvements would be fabulous,” said Alan. “This is the foundation of economic development. It’s not something we can live without anymore.”