Bragg Creek Connect is a community group that was created with the goal of improving the internet in the community. Originally, started about three years ago, the urgency of their goal has only increased over that time. The pandemic has put even more emphasis on the need for access to high-speed internet in every area of the province and that has certainly not hurt their cause.
For anyone who dares to delve into the highly topical and prevalent topic of the day, it is not the clearest of pictures. There is high-speed internet via radio waves, satellite, DSL (using phone lines), cable, and fiber optic. Add into the mix, federal-provincial and municipal governments, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and telecommunications), telecommunication companies, and internet service providers and you have a lot of cooks in the kitchen. For Bragg Creek Connect, as with many rural communities they just want all these players to somehow come together with a plan to provide fast, reliable, internet to their homes and businesses outside of an urban area.
Greg Potter with Bragg Creek Connect says the ideal is broadband fiber optic networking as it is the most long-term, sustainable and cost-effective means of receiving internet. “We believe that broadband communication needs to be viewed the same as electrical and gas services – they are essential utilities. Our perspective is that if we can run electricity to a home or business there is no credible reason that we should not be able to run fiber to that same home or business.”
Most recently the group has been working with Telus which says it will be providing and new cellular tower on the Wintergreen ski hill area. Unfortunately, according to Bragg Creek Connect the tower will not be connected back to the internet via a fiber-optic connection.
Potter says, “We have also been told there will be an enhancement to the existing DSL service which serves residents in the immediate vicinity of the hamlet and will extend the life of this obsolete service based on legacy copper telephone lines for a few more years. These initiatives which are appreciated are long overdue and will provide some limited short term improvements to residents in very specific areas.”
It is the belief of the community group that they have made a certain amount of progress but there is still a long way to go. Potter says, “I think it is dependent to a large extent on moving policy at a government level to support utility-based fiber networks and as soon as that happens I think we will see it happen pretty quickly.” Having just attended the Alberta Rural Connectivity Forum in March, Potter says that he can attest to the fact that there is certainly a groundswell of support for utility base fiber networks in this province.
The momentum is there and being driven even harder due to the pandemic. Hopefully, that momentum will see an end of broadband fiber optic high-speed internet in rural communities.
For more information on Bragg Creek Connect click here.