Downtown businesses and non-profits will have access to more affordable high-speed Internet access thanks to a successful ICET grant application by the city.

Open-access broadband on its way

System will allow local businesses and non-profits to apply for access to high-speed Internet at a more affordable rate

The city is working to provide affordable access to high-speed Internet for all downtown businesses.

Thanks to a successful Island Economic Trust (ICET) grant application, the city is looking to fund an open access municipal broadband network.

It will be the first of its kind on Vancouver Island and is expected to be a best-practices model for other Island and Sunshine Coast communities, according to ICET.

The system will allow local businesses and non-profits located near the network to apply for access to high-speed Internet at a more affordable rate.

Rose Klukas, the city’s economic development officer, said there is increasing demand for high-speed access as traditional industries like forestry or mining are having to transfer large amounts of data like 3D renderings, detailed maps and other geographic information.

She said that being able to offer that service to Campbell River businesses is crucial.

“We need to retain our existing businesses and enable them to grow in place,” Klukas said in a release. “We are also looking to attract and support technology and creative sector entrepreneurs – designers, programmers, software engineers, and more – and competitively priced, high-speed broadband is a must-have.”

Last November city council gave city staff the go-ahead to seek out grant opportunities to complete the infrastructure upgrades necessary to the open access network.

Last week, ICET announced it will give the city a $50,000 grant to complete an existing, city-owned fibre ring that’s currently being used by city operations but has the capacity to expand.

The initiative came about in response to community demand.

“The community said, in a 2009 comprehensive business charrette, that business ventures are restricted by the lack of access to affordable enterprise level Internet service,” said Warren Kalyn, the city’s manager of information technology, in November.

With an open access broadband network, multiple Internet service providers will be able to use municipally-owned infrastructure to provide services to businesses, therefore eliminating substantial build costs that are typically passed on to the consumer.

The ICET grant will help cover the infrastructure requirements to complete an existing broadband ring and to set up a co-location space for service provider companies.

The ring will provide the network integrity and capacity to deliver enterprise level broadband services and will also support businesses located along the perimeter of the service area.