By Cole Parkinson
The Town of Vauxhall has been approached by a company that will provide the town with a high speed wireless internet service.
During the council’s regular meeting on Jan. 16, a delegation from Echo Networks presented to the councillors in hopes of coming to an agreement and partnership moving forward.
“What we are looking to bring in is a fixed wireless system similar to what exists today from competing companies but with a different deployment. What our deployment will allow us to do is to offer much higher speeds starting at 40 megabits, which is much faster than what’s currently available, with potential of speeds of 200 megabits which is on par with what Telus and Shaw are currently offering in the major cities. Another thing that we are going to have is unlimited usage, we want it to be easy to use for everybody. We don’t want to have bandwidth caps and bills that are changing,” said Derek Grimes, a representative from Echo Networks. “We’d like to setup localized sites, so sites that are much closer to the businesses and customers that are going to be using it. The sites are going to be fed with fibre and all of the customers basically in 500 metres is the goal, with much of the customers being much closer.”
With Echo Networks based out of Lethbridge, they guaranteed fast service and a relatively quick setup once they had reached an agreement.
“We’re going to be local, we’ll be able to service people quickly and work with the town to improve things,” said Grimes. “In the town, we would like to get this done as fast as possible for you guys. The benefit to our system is it can be setup fairly quickly, so if we work together we will be able to get it accomplished even faster.”
The project will be completed in three phases with phase three being the project up and fully running.
The first phase will be mainly a test to see what kind of coverage they can provide by placing antennas on the tower located in the southern part of Vauxhall.
“Using that tower, we would setup two antennas that would focus directly on the town and cover a large portion of the town initially. The idea with that is that we can bring in and test services to see what kind of areas that are heavily treed and focus our build on phase two,” said Grimes, who added that phase two would bring expansion across the area. “Phase two would be the testing and expansion phase. We will be testing and adding smaller sites throughout the town, that’s where the map with all of the marks comes into play. We will be going through the town and looking at the sites to see which would be the best ones to work with. During this phase we will be doing the microPOP infrastructure which is the smaller cells. We’ll be filling in the coverage and eventually, when that coverage is complete, they will be replacing the towers and antennas as the main means of delivering the service.”
Areas they are planning to look at for placing cells would include the town office, stadium bleachers, community centre, library, food bank, a power pole on the North side of Vauxhall between the two ball diamonds, public works building, Vauxhall sign, fire station, west side pump station, and irrigation building.
“We’re going to be focusing right on Vauxhall and that’s going to be the primary focus of the project during phase one and two. The benefit to that is it’s a dedicated service to the town, we’re not trying to just get every customer that we can, we want to get the best service that we can. I know that with the best service people will allow us to succeed. You can’t succeed and expand if you are offering a subpar service,” added Grimes.
While the system they are providing is not a new revelation, they say they are picking up where other companies failed and are making it even better.
“We’re trying to pick up where other companies like ShockWare and Xplornet are lacking. They are offering speeds of five, 10 mb which nowadays is tough to do much on,” said Taylor Norquay, the other rep for Echo Networks.
While the starting internet speeds will be at 40mb, they hope to increase them to the 200mb once their service was fully up and running.
They also hope to provide optic fibre to all homes in Vauxhall at some point down the line.
For the time being though, they are only seeking suitable points in Vauxhall to place their cells in order to circulate the connection throughout the entire town.
“We’re not asking for free leases or anything like that, we’re willing to pay for the spaces that we use,” said Grimes, who also added they would like to use as many as the listed sites as possible. “The more sites, the better with our system.”
Before they start up though they would like to have all of the agreements in place but when asked how quickly they could start after that process was over, they confirmed they were ready to start as soon as possible.
While both sides were excited to get going, no firm timeline has been set.