What is the Connected Coast project?
The $45.4 million project will see the placement of sub-sea fibre-optic cable from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii and south along the BC coast to Vancouver and around Vancouver Island.
Currently, many residents living along the West Coast of BC and around Vancouver Island, do not have access to reliable and affordable internet. The Connected Coast project will bring new or improved high-speed internet accessibility to 154 rural and remote coastal communities, including 56 Indigenous communities – representing 44 First Nations – along the BC coast from north of Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island.
Who is paying for the project?
The total cost of the project is $45.4 million, and costs will be shared by the Government of Canada’s Connect to Innovate program (50 %), Indigenous Services Canada (25%) and the Connecting British Columbia program (25%). BC’s Connecting British Columbia program is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.
Why are both CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) being funded for the project? What is the relationship between the two organizations?
The joint $45.4 million investment provides funding to two recipients – CityWest and the SRD to install a new sub-sea fibre-optic cable from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south along the BC coast to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island with landings at multiple coastal communities along its route.
The two organizations initially submitted individual projects but realized improved services for both areas could be attained by connecting the two networks. The two submissions were amalgamated into one – the Connected Coast project.
The SRD will receive $33 million to place the required high-speed infrastructure around Vancouver Island and southern coastal – providing the required infrastructure for 131 communities to be able to connect to the internet. CityWest will receive $12.4 million to provide the necessary infrastructure to enable 23 communities to connect to the internet.
When is the project going to begin?
The funding was announced in late January 2018, and the partners are currently in the planning stages. We anticipate that the coming months will be spent carrying out project consultation and more detailed planning while also moving forward with supporting studies and reports such as environmental impact and traditional use studies. As we collect more information and better define the project scope and timelines, we will begin sharing that information.
I live along the BC coast. Will I benefit from this project?
A complete list of communities expected to benefit from the project can be found here.
What is last-mile connectivity? Why isn’t it being completed as part of this project?
The Connected Coast project provides ‘backbone’ infrastructure only. It does not include last-mile connectivity for communities to connect to the high-speed infrastructure. Last-mile generally refers to the final leg of telecommunications networks that brings the service to homes and end retail customers. The last-mile solution will be unique to each community depending on their aspirations, resources and existing connectivity landscape. Community-based institutions and ISPs that offer last-mile services will be able to connect directly to that backbone infrastructure.
Network BC is the provincial agency tasked with improving connectivity across the province and are a helpful resource for communities and ISP’s seeking to connect to the backbone infrastructure. The Connected Coast project team will keep ISP’s, regional districts and communities informed of important developments and initiatives that may assist them to develop last-mile solutions.
I am a supplier/vendor or an Internet Services Provider (ISP), and I would like to be involved in this project. Who do I contact?
The Connected Coast team is collecting the names of local suppliers, vendors and ISPs. Currently, the project is in its initial planning stages and we are still determining the project scope and requirements. Please send the name of your organization, services provided and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com as all information will be collected and kept for use as the project moves closer to construction.
Why are you using a sub-sea cable?
For the Connected Coast project, we have chosen subsea high-speed fibre-optic cable as the preferred technology for several reasons. Fibre-optic technology is currently the favoured method for delivering data as it provides the greatest capacity for transferring data and is becoming increasingly economic. It can carry high bandwidth for greater distances and is much less susceptible to interference.
Wireless broadband relies on satellites or radio signals from fixed towers. Satellites are costly and rely on a clear line to be able to reliably deliver service. Weather and movement of the safelight can delay or interrupt service. Fixed towers are also costly and require construction in areas that provide a clear distribution such as open spaces. Our coastal terrain makes the construction of these towers cost prohibitive and, in many cases, unfeasible.
Will the network be open?
The Connected Coast network will be open to third parties for dedicated capacity purchases on a wholesale or retail basis.
How many people will benefit from the project?
The proposed sub-sea fibre optic transport line will benefit approximately 175,000 people and 90,000 households in 154 coastal communities – which includes members of 44 First Nations living in 56 Indigenous communities.
Internet access is important but so is cellular coverage. Why are we prioritizing getting these communities internet access before they can use a cellphone?
Cellular service is one way to connect communities and we will continue to find ways to improve cell service in the region. By investing in a fibre-optic line we are creating the opportunity for service providers to connect BC’s coastal regions with modern internet access and cellular coverage. The network’s existence is also expected to make it easier for local internet service providers to obtain grant funding to connect homes and achieve internet speeds available today in large cities.
Are there any other secondary benefits from this project?
Yes. This investment is expected to give northern communities west of Prince George increased reliability. Communities like Terrace and Smithers are currently serviced by a single land-based transport line that is not supported by an alternate fibre transport line in case of damage. A coastal connection will provide redundancy that could maintain service if outages affect the current network connection.
My community is not included on the map. Why Not?
The majority of communities proposed to be included as landing points for this Connected Coast project were identified as eligible communities under the Connect to Innovate program. For the purposes of the program, eligible communities are eligible rural communities and eligible remote communities. An eligible rural community is defined as a named place with a population of less than 30,000 residents and that is 2 km or more from the nearest 1 Gbps PoP. An eligible remote community is a community that meets the definition of a rural community and does not have year-round road access and/or is included on the Canadian Radio- television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) list of communities dependent on satellite for telecommunications services. Refer to the CRTC website for the most recent annual Communications Monitoring Report which identifies these communities. Eligibility was assessed by the federal government based on data from a number of sources, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), provinces, territories and others to identify where PoPs delivering service of at least 1 Gbps are located. This data was then used to build a comprehensive map identifying underserved communities. For more information, please see the eligibility map here: http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/sitt/ibw/hm.html?lang=eng
My community is not listed as an eligible community or landing site. Is it still possible to get a cable landing site located here?
Proposals (or requests) for additional community landing sites will be considered on a case-by-case basis, subject to technical suitability, required approvals, project timelines, and funding availability.
Will there be any environmental implications from the project?
An environmental management plan will be required and developed as part of the project. The project will also have to undergo environmental reviews and approval before construction can commence.