Submitter questions recent article re: hi-speed Internet in Ponoka County

To the Editor,

I would like to respond to an article that was in your March 9 edition. It referred to Corridore Communications, the County of Ponoka and broadband Internet. It didn’t mention the Gull Lake-Deer Creek Gas Co-op. however, a news release that is available on the government of Alberta’s website stated that the co-op, along with the Northern Lights Gas Co-op, would receive a $500,000 grant.

More than a year ago a grant opportunity was offered to municipalities, non-profit organizations, Metis associations, etc., who could qualify to help with the cost of erecting towers to provide Internet access in geographically difficult or low-density population areas. Private companies are reluctant to take the financial risk involved, as they want fast financial returns.

A local non-profit organization heard about the grant. Two years previously, that same organization had accommodated broadband connection to the west area by accepting the installation of a tower and equipment on its property. To make the service available to geographically difficult areas seemed to be the right thing to do. As a service to the community, the non-profit organization made the decision to apply for the grant. During the process, they also applied to the county for financial support of $30,000, but the county declined.

The non-profit organization engaged with a local business that had the technical knowledge needed for such a project. That business had a history for being responsible in business and the community. They employed local people, pay property and business taxes, their children attend local schools and they volunteer in the community. Furthermore, they were prepared to donate ‘in-kind’ value into a project that due to limited population did not guarantee an immediate financial return. They invested in the future growth of the community. This partnering has produced four towers that are up and operating, providing broadband Internet services where none was previously available.

This has been accomplished for less than $150,000. That cost – for the same service – is a long way from the million-dollar project described in the March 9 article. That article raises many unanswered questions, including why is a similar broadband service proposed in an area of limited population? Why are those sites a quarter-mile, including one barely 65 metres, from the towers that the non-profit organization has had erected? If the Calgary-based company is constructing, “on their own dime”, a centrally located tower where because of population density, it would see a quicker return.

Why do the other proposed towers cost $1,000,000? Who owns this company? Is it Canadian, Egyptian or perhaps American? What is this I hear about contracting with customers for a service that doesn’t exist, but could in the future? Is that like buying a bull that might produce?

Oh. Right. If it hasn’t bred the cows by April, you get your money back.

I was a longtime dial-up user. I have switched to broadband – the locally serviced one that is up and running.

Irene Kurta-Lovell

Rimbey

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