By Jenn Watt
Small communities like Minden Bancroft and Haliburton could be ideal candidates for a fibre optic network Grant Roughley of North Frontenac Telephone Company told Minden Hills council during their meeting Feb. 25.
NFTC is considering the three towns among others for expansion of the service which typically brings speeds between 10 and 100 times faster than standard DSL services(depending on the current state of a customer’s Internet connection and the package they subscribe to).
Along with Internet NFTC also offers TV and phone services.
Roughley told council that the company is looking at the three communities in a “preliminary review of layout or pre-design that feeds into a feasibility [study] where we look at capital cost we look at the potential market size and the potential absorption rate.”
He said they are about 75 per cent through that process now.
Should the company move forward in Minden or Haliburton they would likely use the “backbone” of fibre built by the Eastern Ontario Regional Network which was a collective effort by eastern Ontario municipalities to expand high-speed Internet to the area.
In a follow-up with Roughley after the meeting he clarified that “this will depend how competitive the rates associated with the EORN project are compared to current market rates.”
Although Haliburton County’s municipalities recently signed on to a broadband deal that expanded fibre to 24 public buildings that move is municipal in nature not residential.
Councillor Pam Sayne asked Roughley how many residents in Minden Village could expect to receive service should the company go forward.
“There are limitations” he said. “You start to look at where there’s a dilution to the point where it becomes too expensive but there’s also methodologies in our current communities … there’s line of sight towers short-range towers. There’s ways to extend capacity that you’re getting from your fibre network.”
NFTC is based in Sharbot Lake north of Kingston which is a small rural community. He said the company therefore had dealt with sparsely populated regions before.
Reeve Brent Devolin said he thought it would be useful for council to assume the service would be offered in the approximate region where water and sewer extend.
Councillor Jeanne Anthon asked about price.
Roughley said he didn’t want to speculate before the feasibility study was done but pointed out that they would have to offer competitive prices in order to attract enough customers to make it worthwhile.
“I’m encouraged” Devolin said “if you’re three-quarters of the way through and you’re still feeling confident that we can raise the bar.”
Roughley will be updating councils in Bancroft and Haliburton over the next month.
Editor’s note: North Frontenac Telephone Company is 50 per cent owned by London Publishing Corporation. London Publishing Corporation shares the same ownership as White Pine Media which in turn owns the Minden Times and Haliburton Echo.