County Internet towers change lives for residents

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  • Aug. 16, 2011 11:00 a.m.

By Treena Mielke

Ponoka County council is pleased with a high speed Internet service installed in the county last summer, and expects the installation of more towers will help alleviate the dead pockets some residents are experiencing.

Council met with representatives from Corridor Communications Inc. (CCI Wireless) and Susan Bincoletto, the federal assistant deputy minister for Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications, and Mesmin Pierre, director of broadband with Industry Canada at last Tuesday’s council meeting.

Bincoletto was travelling with the CCI Wireless group on a field trip to visit communities and municipalities using the service.

“It’s been an eye-opener for me to visit real people and know how it (high speed Internet) really changed the quality of their life.”

“We still have some dead spots, but we are very happy with service,” Reeve Gordon Svenningsen told CCIs representatives.

“Your (CCI Wireless) support has been fantastic and that has helped us considerably.”

Coun. Paul McLauchlin, from division 4 in the west end of the county, said he has businesses in Calgary where technology is easily attainable, and is pleased to see the high speed Internet come to the rural area.

“I’m aware of at least 10 businesses that wouldn’t exist without high speed Internet.”

He also noted senior citizens in his area are now sending e-mails. “The oldest family in my neighborhood has started sending emails.”

Division 3 Coun. George Verheire from the centre of the county, had a dialup system and said high speed Internet is much faster and efficient.

“My sons are amazed that it performs as well as it does. At one time it seemed rural Alberta was being left out, but man, we’re catching up.”

Amir Bigloo, the chief executive officer with CCI Wireless said the company uses fourth generation wireless.

“This technology does not exist in Calgary or Edmonton,” he said. “We have been working with Ponoka County for about a year and a half. It’s one of the first counties we worked with.”

There are seven main towers in Ponoka County that have been deployed and more are in the planning stages.

CCI comprises 18 rural gas co-operatives, REAs (rural electrification associations) and municipalities. Ponoka County and the Gull Lake Deer Creek Gas Co-op formed a strategic partnership with CCI to bring the service to the area.

Bigloo said the $2 million project for Ponoka County was funded through federal, provincial, municipal and GLDC Gas Co-op dollars.

In September of 2010 CCI Wireless received conditional funding approval under the Broadband Canada: Connecting Rural Canadians program as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan. The funding allowed CCI to bring broadband Internet access to an estimated 22,500 households.