Faster internet expanding into Columbia Valley’s smaller communities

The Regional District of East Kootenay is facilitating faster web time.

It’s normally not as profitable to deliver high speed internet to rural areas, but a federal subsidy program has changed that — and the smaller communities in the valley are likely to benefit.

For a private firm interested in expanding online networks, more than 80 per cent of broadband infrastructure project costs will be covered.

FlexiNET and Wink Wireless have both shown interest in projects around the valley, affecting areas in and around Edgewater, Spillimacheen, Brisco, and Canal Flats.

Of the incentive subsidy, some will be provided regionally. If an application is successful, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) indicated during its regular meeting on Friday, January 9th a willingness to support 17.5 per cent of the project costs

The federal government provides 50 per cent of the cost, and the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) will cover an additional 17.5 per cent.

“The federal government wants everyone to have minimum 5 MB internet service available to as many Canadians as possible,” said Shawn Tomlin, chief executive office for the RDEK. “In order to get service up in these areas, it’s not commercially viable. It’s not something the companies would do on their own. This is a means of helping them expand into areas that they otherwise wouldn’t.”

After holding community consultations around the Columbia Basin, the CBT found that improving broadband was a priority for people around the Kootenays, said Mr. Tomlin, which resulted in the creation of the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation.

“They’re a subsidiary of CBT and they’ve been bringing this all together, working with applicants and securing federal grants,” he said.