The MRC d’Argenteuil has proposed an $11.5 million project to bring in a fibre optic network for reliable high speed Internet for its residents. It’s hoping to cover $9.5 million of that through two government grant programs, namely Connect to Innovate from the feds and Québec Branché.
“The project is a little expensive,” says Frédérick Jones, a senior analyst with the MRC. “That’s because all the infrastructure to eventually bring in cable and landlines has been included as well.”
Making a connection
A large part of the remaining $2 million would go towards establishing a not-for-profit organization that would become the service provider and would be managed by the MRC.
“The mayors took it upon themselves instead of waiting for large telecom companies,” says Jones.
He adds that the current plan has the not-for-profit making money after five or six years, which would then be re-invested to grow the network.
However, all of this is dependent on the other parts of the project receiving grant money.
“We targeted areas where it would be profitable to have a fibre optic network,” says Jones.
Those areas include the better part of Harrington, Wentworth and Milles-Isles, and touches the northern part of Brownsburg-Chatham, as well as a bit of Lachute.
According to Jones, the plan mostly focuses on the northern part of the MRC because DERYtelecom has shown interest in providing services to the South.
While he shies away from calling the relationship between the MRC and DERYtelecom a partnership, he says the MRC was a “facilitator” when it came to providing information for the company’s service proposal. In exchange, the telecom offered stats and suggested equipment to be used in the MRC’s plan.
DERYtelecom has owned the network in the southern part of Argenteuil since 2014, after purchasing it from Eastlink.
Jones says the results from an open survey in March about internet speed is an integral piece of the grant application.
The application includes maps and data acquire through nearly 800 usable survey responses.
“We had to show that these regions either weren’t serviced or had poor service for high speed Internet,” says Jones.
Through nearly 800 survey responses, the MRC mapped and built a database to do just that.
While Jones says there were no real surprises in the results—larger urban centers indeed have better internet access—they solidify the current portrait of the territory.
“Now we know exactly the download speed in specific areas,” he adds.
Without the survey responses, Jones says the MRC may as well not even apply for funding.
“It’s an integral piece. Without it, I think we would have started with a strike or two against us.”
The MRC expects to have an answer to its application near the end of summer, or early fall. If its project is accepted, Jones says work will start next year.
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