Soon, Vauxhall may be home to fiber optic Internet – provided there’s enough interest.
If 30 per cent of Vauxhallites log onto http://www.axia.com/alberta and fill out a form declaring, “Yes! I want this, pleases and thank you!”, than Axia – an Internet service provider based out of Alberta– would install a fibre optic network, and it could be installed in the town as early as by the end of the year.
“What’s unique about Vauxhall, what’s unique about your situation, is that your a relatively smaller community, “ said Jason O’Connor, community relations for Axia, during the Nov. 2 council meeting. “So communities like this are perfect, cause it’s easier for us to construct. And it seems like there’s an appetite for it out here… So our value proposition that we bring to the table, as we say, lets work with these small rural communities, and make it happen together.”
The general deal goes like this; Axia wants to invest in small Alberta communities, by building open – meaning that any service, such as TELUS or Shaw, can use it – fibre optic networks. They are going into different communities, and asking them just how much do they want this product. If 30 per cent or more of households and businesses in a community log on and sign up for the service, then the company would deem it profitable enough to go in and install a network that would last for up to 30 years, at no cost to the community.
“So you’re making your money back too, right?” asked Margaret Plumtree, mayor of Vauxhall, during council.
“Yes, there’s a business case for it for sure,” said O’Connor.
“And then, so I’m wondering, you’re owning it, you’re putting it in,” said Plumtree. “What happens down the line when repairs need to happen?”
“So we take care of all of that. We manage the network and maintain it,” said O’Connor. “But it’s open… We’re creating an open market with this infrastructure, we’re not just trying to lock you down.”
Vauxhall town councillors had asked O’Connor to meet with them to discuss the service. Local business woman Petra Klempnauer, co-owner of Columbia Seed, also attended and asked questions on how it would be installed and how far out of town it would go.
“What we do is draw a circle around the town, and build a network, a distribution network,” said O’Connor, adding that the town had a good shape for it. “Our goal is to get within a hundred metres of every residence.”
Unfortunately, it’s costly to extend the network to residents out of town. While it could be done, it would not be included as part of the free installation.
Axia has been operating for over 10 years, focusing on connecting communities with their fibre network. They are currently working with the Albertan government to provide services on the Alberta Supernet – which connects 4,700 government, learning, health, library and municipal facilities across the province – and are installing networks in Nanton and Nobleford, and have a completed network live in Vulcan. Next year, they have about 20 more communities that they will be installing in.
“We’re really going after this market, because we like this market. Rural Alberta is where we’re from,” said O’Connor. “Not every community sees the value in it, others really do.”
While Axia may still install in a community if less then 30 per cent of households and businesses say they want the service, they will only do it at no cost to the community if at least 30 per cent say they want it. The deadline to sign up for the offer is Dec. 31, 2015.