SCUGOG: It appears that some Scugog Island residents could be receiving high-speed fibre internet services as early as this fall.
Tim St. Pierre of Communicate Freely updated Councillors on the progress of the provider’s Island Internet project at a meeting on Monday, April 18.
Mr. St Pierre told Councillors that Communicate Freely has secured private funding to begin the first phase of the project and that they have completed all submissions to Industry Canada, with the agreement set to be executed by the first week in May.
“We are at the stage now where we are ordering materials, taking orders, we’ve got pre-registration on our web-site now so we are starting to ramp up,” he said. “We are getting to the engineering stage and the permitting stage.”
Mr. St. Pierre added that they have also worked out access or joint use agreements with Hydro One, Veridian and are close to a deal with The Region of Durham.
Communicate Freely plans to start construction at the end of May or in early June and to start connecting customers in the fall.
“It’s likely to take us into the Spring of 2018 to have everything done, but the plan continues to be over 820 customers on Scugog Island,”Mr. St. Pierre said.
Communicate Freely has also recently expanded their internet service in the business district in downtown Port Perry, with fibre services now available on the south side of Queen St., between Perry St. and Water St.
One of the remaining milestones for moving forward with the project has been achieving a Municipal Access Agreement with the Township of Scugog. Communicate Freely submitted some drawings to the Township in August and has been waiting for approval since.
Director of Public Works and Parks Glen Smith was put in charge of the access agreement. He told Council that he is close to having it finalized.
“I have been picking away at it when we don’t have other crisises such as roads that are impassible or culverts that are blocked. The day to day stuff does get in the way, but I’m well on my way through it, I would say that I have it about three quarters finalized,” Director Smith said. “After, I am going to ask someone to reread it and then we will have it back to Council for adoption.”
Mayor Tom Rowett said that it is important that the Township gets this agreement right to set guidelines for future agreements.
“Because this Municipal Access Agreement is a standard that gets set not only for Communicate Freely, but for all carriers that will have a protocol set in place and there wasn’t one before, we don’t want all different ISPs running through or utility companies running through and not have control or not have mapping, not have insurance. There are so many things we need to protect,” he said.
Communicate Freely received a Federal Connecting Canadians grant in July to provide the service to the under-serviced Island.
Mayor Rowett also told The Standard that Council expects to get an update from their consultant in May on the extra steps for the Township’s Municipal Services Corporation on how to proceed with servicing the Township.
“We do have unanimous support from Council that as a strategic plan initiative, they want to make sure that we are a very proactive community in technology and connectivity,” Mayor Rowett said.“So it doesn’t matter if it is with private sector, the way that unfolded with Communicate Freely or with a combination of public sector or other private ISPs.”
The Mayor added that there are a number of options open to the Township on how to connect the entire Municipality of Scugog.
“There are a lot of municipalities that are recently jumping on board with this. and I sit on a provincial working group that deals with ultra high speed broadband and I have been also working with the other municipalities in the region as a whole looking at these problems and trying to make sure we are on the leading edge and are at the forefront.”