This 2019 map shows where 100 megabyte-per-second or higher internet speeds are available to 75 per cent of households in each purple four square-kilometre area. (CRTC image)

Lagging Shuswap communities may receive faster internet this fall

Connecting British Columbia program awards up to $3 million to Telus to build infrastructure

This fall, internet reliability and speed may improve in the Shuswap.

On June 8, the Ministry of Citizens’ Services said the Connecting British Columbia program is providing up to about $3 million to Telus to improve speed and reliability of internet in the region.

Telus will receive up to $253,620 toward the estimated $281,800 cost of improving internet access in Bastion Bay.

The service provider will also receive up to $2.17 million toward the estimated $4 million cost of improving internet access in Tappen, Balmoral and Carlin.

Telus is also receiving up to $546,055 for a project in Deep Creek and Annis Bay that has a total estimated cost of $1.06 million.

The funding for building infrastructure comes not long after a May 28 Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) press release on internet speeds. It expressed concern that communities within the region were experiencing slower speeds than federal data suggested they should be.

Read more: Internet speeds in Columbia-Shuswap region may be slower than federal data suggests

Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development, Roly Russell, acknowledged some regions that are to receive upgrades are not currently operating at the 50 megabyte-per-second download time and 10 megabyte-per-second upload time federal maps say they are.

Russell also said there’s a recognition that as time goes on, even those speeds aren’t quite fast enough for some folks’ needs. He said the service coming to the lagging Shuswap communities could be close to a gigabyte-per-second upload speeds.

Since Telus is the company building out into these communities, higher internet speeds will only be coming to customers of Telus initially.

While multiple companies can often share passive infrastructure, such as utility poles, Russell said other internet service providers would have to negotiate with Telus if they would like to use Telus’ fibre optic network to provide service.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is the body responsible for regulating internet pricing and competition. While Russell said there is currently no regulated internet pricing in the Shuswap area, the CRTC is currently transitioning to a new model of service that will allow competitors more access to large companies’ networks.

The recent funding was given to Telus with the expectation that improved internet service would be accessible to customers by Oct. 31, 2021, said Russell.

Read more: VIDEO: Community offers surprise send off to Sicamous arena manager Wayne March


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