The long-anticipated arrival of fiber optic Internet is just a few months away.
The West Coast will undoubtedly be hesitant to get its hopes up its been promised faster Internet speed and added online capacity before, just to be burned by budget-based snags, but this time around both companies involved have assured the switch will be flipped in the spring of 2016.
The roughly $12 million project includes BC Hydro replacing about 350 of its poles along a roughly 65 km stretch of Hwy 4 for Telus to string fibre optic cables through.
Hydro’s shovels officially hit the ground earlier this year and Hydro spokesperson Karla Louwers told the Westerly last week that the work should conclude by the end of November.
She acknowledged the company is coming in about a month behind schedule but said a late addition of 10 unexpected pole replacements pushed the project back.
“From the original scope of the project we were on time, it’s those 10 additional poles that were added that were outside of the scope,” Louwers said.
“We’re not just replacing poles, we’re also replacing and upgrading some of the equipment on the poles.”
She said Hydro crews are working with a live 60-thousand volt line that could not be turned off without cutting the entire Coast off from power.
“Usually when crews work live-line it does take a little bit longer to complete that work because there’s that extra precaution built into those work methods,” she said.
“That circuit is a critical circuit; it’s the only feed to the West Coast. If we were to have to take it out the whole community would be out so it was essential that we were able to complete that work using live-line methods.”
Telus spokesperson Liz Sauvé said Telus is ready to start funneling fiber cables through once Hydro’s pole replacement work is finished.
“TELUS will begin stringing the fiber in the next couple of weeks, and will be working over the coming months to place the fiber across the 65 kilometres,” Sauvé said.
“Barring extreme weather over the winter, we expect the project will be complete in the spring of next year, bringing local residents and businesses access to high-speed Internet and much-needed enhanced capacity.”
Telus, BC Hydro, All Nations Trust Company and the province are expected to pitch in to cover the project’s roughly $12 million price tag.
Hydro’s portion of the bill will be roughly $4.7 million, according to Louwers who noted Telus is handling the lion’s share of the bill.
“We wouldn’t have had to do anywhere near the amount of the work that we’re doing there unless fiber was being attached to those poles so much of these pole replacements were really Telus driven,” she said.