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Work on Sundre's gigabit network underway

Construction notices have been issued this week by XCI

SUNDRE — The municipality is poised to emerge from the digital dark age and finally connect to the 21st century.

Xplornet Communications Inc. will be commencing construction shortly to deploy a full fibre-to-the-premise fibre optic network in town.

The new infrastructure will provide the community with gigabit internet service. That means delivering light-speed digital communications for both residents and businesses, the statement reads.

Although Xplornet Communications Inc. (XCI) issued construction notices last week, additional project details are yet to come. Specific information on options for signing up to the new service will also be announced in the coming weeks.

“The Town of Sundre is very happy to support XCI in their deployment of this full fibre network in Sundre, and we are excited to continue facilitating yet another important investment into our community.”

Graham Fleet, Xplornet’s senior manager for government and public relations, responded on Wednesday, July 21 to follow up questions from The Albertan.

Although unable to dive deeply into details due to confidentiality, Fleet said the company anticipates being able to “completely unveil the project” sooner rather than later.

“We want to be as transparent — especially with the Town of Sundre — as possible, because we have been working with them for a long time in terms of bringing this project to fruition,” Fleet said during a phone interview.

He was, however, able to confirm plans to deploy high speed internet within the municipality and that construction was expected to be underway this week.

“Xplornet is building a full fibre-to-the-home network,” he said.

“Ultimately, there’s an engagement process that happens that will be announced as the build starts, in terms of getting the drops to the various houses. But almost everybody within the town will have the option to have a fibre optic connection run up to their house or business.”

As that final physical connection to a premise requires the company to work on the owner’s property, there will be a permission process, he explained.

“That whole process will be announced to the town in the coming weeks,” he said.

Residents and business owners can expect a significant increase to both download and upload speeds, although synchronous service — meaning equal up and download speeds — won’t be the default package.

“The packages that we are putting together are not fully synchronous right now,” he said.

“(However), there will be the ability on our network to have that,” he added.

The ratio of download to upload speeds will nevertheless be very high, he said.

“Higher than what the traditional ratio is right now.”

The universal service mandate outlines a minimum ratio of 50 down to 10 up, which translates to upload speeds that are 20 per cent of the download speeds.

“The ratio will be at least that, or higher, on the larger packages,” he said.

“The standard packages will certainly offer significant upload (speeds), but most likely not synchronous unless it’s a requirement, and that would then be an enterprise service.”

So, while there certainly will be the ability to deliver synchronous speeds, he said it would be a matter of whether that service will be part of the available standard consumer options.

Although he could not yet disclose specific monthly costs for different packages, Fleet said customers could anticipate competitive rates.

“There are some significant costs involved and densities don’t necessarily allow for identical pricing to urban centres. But it is certainly going to be very close to what is available in major centres throughout Alberta,” he said.

“Our mission basically is to ensure that all rural Albertans, and Canadians in general, are connected. We want to be as competitive as possible on those rates and ensure that choosing to live outside a major centre isn’t a decision that needs to be made based on utility costs in general.”

Providing additional contextual background, Fleet said Alberta represents a significant market to Xplornet, which continues to invest in and upgrade its network, not only in terms of pushing to expand fibre-to-the-premise infrastructure, but also the company’s wireless service.

Helping to pave the way forward for Xplornet’s expansion in the province was last year’s acquisition of CCI Wireless, he said.

“The acquisition of CCI Wireless by Xplornet is really being used as a building block for increased and improved customer service and improved network performance within Alberta,” he said.

“This is an investment as well in future growth in the province.”

The estimated cost of the project, as well as whether cable would be mounted aerially or buried in the ground, were among the details that could not immediately be divulged. However, he said aerial installations tend to be more efficient, but that the deployment of fibre optic infrastructure can involve a combination of both approaches. 

Additionally, Cross Cut Directional Boring is a contractor listed on the construction notice. 

Fleet said he looks forward to fully unveiling the project’s full details soon.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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