Andy Balser, Telus’ vice-president of marketing, announced the company will spend $75 million on fibre optic network connection in Nanaimo and Lantzville on Friday, March 8. (Karl Yu/NEWS BULLETIN)

Telus spending $75M for better internet, cellphone service in Nanaimo area

Work expected to begin in April to connect areas to Telus PureFibre network

Telus will spend $75 million to bring faster internet speed and better cellphone service to the Nanaimo and Lantzville areas.

The telecommunications company announced Friday, it will connect over 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the areas, including Snuneymuxw and Snaw-Naw-As first nation land, to its PureFibre network. Telus’ “gigabit-enabled” network will allow for faster movie download, online gaming and web browsing, as well as video conferencing. It also sets the stage for future 5G mobile technology.

“We don’t have a map published by any means, but what we look to do is, as we build the fibre network, we’re going to look for opportunities to extend both coverage, to put cell service where it maybe not as good today and improve that capacity to give people higher speeds … it really gives the ability to start to get much more targeted and deliver improved service to where people in Nanaimo want it most,” said Andy Balser, Telus’ vice-president of marketing.

Balser said he couldn’t speak specifically about any plans to build cellphone towers locally, but did say steps are being made to improve service.

“What I can say is with the fibre build we will be adding small cells which will improve coverage and capacity,” said Balser. “These are small, low-powered cell sites that we attach on streetlights or telephone poles.”

Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said the business community will benefit.

“Out of the 6,000 businesses in Nanaimo that are licensed, nearly 40 per cent are home-based businesses and you got to expect that all of those are reliant on their internet connections and some, this will be … great news for them because they are technology workers in the home,” said Smythe.

Ralph Nilson, Vancouver Island University president and vice-chancellor, said the news fits nicely with happenings at VIU.

“Any time we can increase the bandwidth and the opportunities in Nanaimo and the area is only going to enhance for all of us and all of our students … employees, all of our staff are excited about continuing to enhance, because we’re currently going through a whole transformation in our IT system of the hardware and the software upgrades and we’ve got a great leadership team up there doing this and when we have the kind of complementary activity going on from Telus in our community, it’s going to enhance our whole community, so we’re very, very pleased with this development,” said Nilson.

Leonard Krog, Nanaimo mayor, said the announcement is good for the city.

“This is about speed and connectivity,” said Krog. “In the modern world, that’s what it’s all about. The ability to exchange and retrieve knowledge, information in a speedy fashion. It attracts tech companies to the community that otherwise might not consider Nanaimo to be on the list and you couple this … with what we already have going for us as a community, this is a tremendously positive announcement for Nanaimo.”

Connection comes at no cost to taxpayers and work will last from April until 2021. Representatives will door-knock seeking permission from residents to connect with no obligation to sign with Telus.

Balser said there could be minor traffic detours while work is being completed, but they will be “short-lived.”

“Traffic may be slow, but your internet is about to get a whole lot faster,” said Balser.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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