HIGH RIVER, AB: High River’s innovative and forward-thinking Council has approved the investment and implementation of reliable and affordable high speed broadband (fiber optics) to allow businesses within the Town to access services at speeds of 100 times what is currently available.
“The availability of affordable high speed fiber optics will support and attract knowledge-based businesses that have a critical dependency on high speed broadband,” says Jodi Dawson, manager of economic development for the Town. “This project is another example of our Council’s vision, leadership and long term commitment to the success of our local business community.”
The $685,720 five year capital project will begin generating revenue when the broadband services become part of the Town’s utilities as a fee-for-service model, this will provide an opportunity to stimulate significant economic growth while creating a new revenue stream for the Town. The open infrastructure will be provided by the Town and can be used by any provider to deliver services to customers.
“Companies in the health, creative, professional, agriculture and technical fields say high-speed internet, combined with the Town’s other unique assets and entrepreneurial spirit, makes this community very attractive for their businesses,” says Dawson.
Dawson adds that the affordability of these broadband services will allow businesses and residents to remain in town while interacting with businesses regionally and globally, improving productivity and performance while reducing time spent commuting, therefore contributing to an overall higher quality of life for residents of the Town.
“The service areas include both the downtown business district as well as the south east industrial district.” says Dawson. “These services would also be available to residential dwellings physically located within or in close proximity to the business districts.”
In May of 2017, the Town retained IBI Group to provide a strategy and business plan for the development of the broadband project. IBI Group also conducted market surveys and performed bandwidth testing to assess the availability and speed of current connections to businesses in Town. A Town Hall meeting was also conducted that provided businesses the opportunity to learn more about the initiative, provide feedback and have questions answered.
IBI Group delivered a report to the Town in July, 2017, and at the request of the Town, began to further investigate options relating to the outsourcing of network operations and service delivery functions to 3rd parties. A detailed review of an outsource alternative to O-Net, a broadband services provider within the Town of Olds (Alberta) was conducted and additional financial modelling was performed.
“Businesses within the Town of High River identified that their limited access to high speed internet services is an issue that prevents them from being more productive and competitive,” adds Dawson. “The Town’s vision is to have a modern, open telecommunications infrastructure that enables competitive service providers to deliver high speed broadband services to businesses.”
After completing the financial and service delivery modelling, Dawson and IBI Group requested capital funding from High River Town Council in order to construct the necessary fiber optic infrastructure and develop outsource agreements to deliver high speed broadband services.
The project received final approval when High River Council approved the 2018-2022 Capital Budget at its February 12 regular meeting.
“Our next steps are to develop detailed network design specifications to be able to move into construction in late spring, 2018,” adds Dawson. “This will be a phased service roll-out beginning in the downtown and expanding as demand dictates.”
More information will be shared in the coming months on the Town’s website, www.highriver.ca
About The Town of High River:
The Town of High River is situated 30 minutes south of Calgary and home to a population of 13,584 people. High River is a community steeped in hometown Alberta values, with a vision of a new and vibrant future. Known for its investment opportunities and entrepreneurial spirit, High River has been recognized as one of the best places to do business in Canada. A people-first town, High River is focused on building connections within the community and providing a high-quality of life to its residents. For more information, visit www.highriver.ca.