The Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) is providing letters of support for several Internet Service Providers (ISPs) applying for grants to provide broadband Internet to rural communities. If approved, broadband Internet will soon be available to several communities including Heffley Creek, Heffley Lake and Little Heffley Lake.
The applications are made to Connecting Citizens Grant Program, which provides grants of up to $50,000 to fund infrastructure that will assist ISPs in getting remote locales connected online.
“Although it’s not financially feasible for the TNRD to fund broadband Internet services throughout the region, we can throw our support behind each individual ISP that wants to bring high-speed Internet through this effective grant program,” said TNRD chair Peter Milobar. “Our goal is to help them out in any way we can to bring broadband to the region, and this provincial grant fund is a great way.”
The companies applying for grants through the program to provide broadband services to rural communities in the immediate area are: ABC Communications (McLure, Black Pines, Vinsulla, Heffley Creek, Skeetchestn Valley and Tranquille), and Mascon Cable Systems (Heffley Lake and Little Heffley Lake).
The TNRD provided a similar endorsement to Mascon Cable Systems last year. The company received approval and was able to offer broadband services to the Whitecroft community.
Chris Allen, vice president of ABC Communications, said the grant is absolutely essential to ISPs.
“The business models in these rural areas are not substantial enough to pay back the initial investment without government subsidy to make them happen.”
The cost of infrastructure and installment is the biggest challenge that prevents ISPs from expanding their services to remote locations. The monetary support from the grant makes it possible for companies to make this leap.
“Around Heffley Creek, we’re hoping for 72 subscribers. In the wider TNRD, we’re looking at as many as 250 if all grants were to be approved and networks constructed,” said Allen.
This is Connecting Citizens Grant Program’s third year. The program will contribute a total of $1.5 million this year to get more homes and business in rural and remote areas connected online.