By Kelsey Verboom
After purchasing NanoFibre Networks Inc. and its assets in a deal this past June, Shaw Communications now has answers for residents on what the takeover will mean for them: fast download speeds for those who wish to pay for them, and slower upload speeds for customers accustomed to Nano’s fibre-to-the-home setup.
At a regular meeting of the Regional District Board of Directors on October 6th, representatives from Shaw Communications answered questions about Shaw’s acquisition of NanoFibre and how it will affect Internet, phone, and cable services for local people.
Top on the list of developments is the construction of a new service hub site in Fairmont, which will bring a reliable underground fibre signal to the south end of the valley in place of the microwave signal previously in place.
The new hub site will bring a signal to the area in bulk via an optical fibre network, and distribute it to homes and businesses using coaxial cable, meaning there will be no fibre-to-the-premise connections for now, although Shaw said they may have plans for such developments in the future.
The new hub site will work in conjunction, wherever possible, with the optical fibres currently in place that were laid by NanoFibre, said Todd Musat, Senior Engineer with Shaw.
“We’re configuring the network to suit how we deliver services, as opposed to how Nano does it,” he said.
“There’s a great deal of work now that the transaction is complete to actually marry up the NanoFibre technology and architecture to our platform so that we have contiguous services for customers,” added Jeff Bray, Manager of Government and Regulatory Affairs with Shaw. “It’s a bit more complex because we are buying assets that are using a different technology.”
The joining of the two services will mean a slowing of upload speeds for customers who currently enjoy NanoFibre’s standard 15 Mbps symmetrical download and upload speeds. They will be switched to a non-symmetrical 50 Mbps download and (up to) five Mbps upload speeds, confirmed Derek Strauss, Shaw Operations Manager.
Customers with NanoFibre’s basic package can expect to receive roughly the same level of service at approximately the same price, Mr. Bray said, although price packaging for existing Nano customers will be on a case-by-case basis depending on what setup they currently have.
“That’s where we’re not quite at yet. We’re still working that out from a business standpoint,” he added.
For those willing to pay more, speeds of up to 250 Mbps will be available residentially in the Columbia Valley, making the area one of only five places in Western Canada offering such speeds via broadband with Shaw, Mr. Strauss added.
“The Cadillac is available, but you just have to be willing to pay for it,” Director Dee Conklin remarked.
Shaw is still working to decide on price packages specific to the Columbia Valley, Mr. Strauss responded. Shaw’s website currently advertises general packages with 250 Mbps starting at $99 per month.
The benefits of having download speeds as fast as 250 Mbps available in the Columbia Valley are significant, Mr. Bray explained.
“These investments really do make it possible for the East Kootenays to say, ‘Move from Toronto, move from Montreal, because you can get the same services.’ The fastest Internet speeds in North America are here in the Kootenays,” he added.
The upgrades to the Columbia Valley, totaling $5 million, are expected to be complete within 24 months.
At the meeting, the Shaw representatives also confirmed that NanoFibre customers will have the option to keep their existing telephone numbers, and that Shaw will be looking to package Internet, phone, and cable services.