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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Town of Pincher Creek to support fibre optic broadband initiative


Toni Lucas - Council for the Town of Pincher Creek decided during their regular meeting on Monday, November 9 to support Axia Net Media Corporation (Axia) in their proposed initiative to explore community interest in the possibility of having Axia provide a fibre optic network infrastructure within the town of Pincher Creek. A broadband steering committee was formed in the spring of 2015 to explore the viability of and avenues for setting up a broadband system in the town.

Councillor Doug Thornton said that Axia is willing to put in the infrastructure "...at no cost to the community, as far as putting in the actual infrastructure itself." Mayor Don Anderberg said if Axia can get 30% sign up from serviceable addresses they will then install the fibre optic network to within 100 metres of all serviceable addresses in the town of Pincher Creek. This means the infrastructure will then be available to all of those addresses in the future. Councillor Doug Thornton said, "Everyone would have their own dedicated fibre (line)."

Currently there are selected areas in town of Pincher Creek that get fibre optic service. A supernet of fibre optic networks was instituted after 2001 in communities throughout Alberta, a backbone infrastructure supplying fibre optics to government facilities, schools, hospitals, and libraries. What Axia has proposed is that with enough customers in the area they will install the fibre optic infrastructure from that backbone to town residences. Axia plans to offer upload and download speeds ranging from 25 megabits per second to 1 gigabit per second, depending on the contract with each individual customer.

Thornton said he is the Chair of the broadband committee, and he has explained during his reports at council since the formation of the committee that a number of possibilities have been explored, including the possibility of instituting a fibre optic network as a Town-based utility. Regarding the Axia proposal Thornton said, "We are hopeful that businesses and residents will look at the opportunity here and sign up to have this available." He explained the city of Olds has recently installed fibre optics to each residence at the cost to the community of approximately $15 million.

Mayor Don Anderberg said one of the drawbacks of the Town creating and maintaining the network as a Town based utility was a lack of expertise in the field and said he was pleased with this opportunity. "This will be an open network, apparently. Axia is willing to come into our community, put that network, a pipeline of fibre optic in place, and you can get most providers on that network at some point in the future."

"This is going to be determined by the citizens. If we get that 30% take-up in a short period of time, this network can be up and functional by late 2016." Anderberg also mentioned Axia's connection fees. The monthly rates are posted at Axia.com and range from $59/month and up for residential services, and $99/month and up for business services.

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