Nearly 140 communities on B.C.’s coast can look forward to faster internet soon.
The ship Canpac Valour arrived in Campbell River on Oct. 21 to be outfitted and will begin laying cable up the coast towards Haida Gwaii, as part of the Connected Coast project, according to a release from the province. The project is expected to be completed by March 2023.
The $45.4-million project, announced in 2018, will bring high-speed internet transport connection to approximately 139 rural and remote coastal communities, including 48 Indigenous communities, according to the provincial government. The arrival of the ship marks the beginning of work to lay subsea fibre optics cable along the ocean floor to landing sites throughout coastal B.C., from Haida Gwaii to southern Vancouver Island.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of quality, high-speed internet to learn, do business, stay healthy, access services and keep in touch with loved ones,” said Lisa Beare, minister of citizens’ services. “Through Connected Coast, people and businesses in remote and underserved communities along B.C.’s coast can stay connected and participate in economic opportunities – faster.”
The subsea fibre optics cable will run more than 3,400 kilometres along the coast of B.C., including a link to Haida Gwaii and around Vancouver Island – one of the longest coastal subsea networks in the world, according to the province.
The province has committed $90 million towards new connectivity projects throughout B.C. since October 2020 as part of the Connecting British Columbia program’s economic recovery intake.
Since 2017, the provincial government has invested $190 million into expanding high-speed internet and cellular connectivity throughout the province. Budget 2021 committed stable funding to connectivity for the first time, ensuring these important investments will continue, according to the province.
“Connecting people in rural and remote communities to the services and opportunities that high-speed internet brings, benefits us all,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island. “I’d like to thank local governments, First Nations and our many other partners who helped get us to today’s project launch. High-speed internet opens up limitless possibilities to the North Island and the entire B.C. coast, and I can’t wait to see what people do with these new opportunities.”
The fibre is protected to ensure it is not damaged and consists of glass strands about as thick as a strand of human hair. When operational, hundreds of gigabits of data will stream through the subsea fibre optics cable every second, according to the province.