CityWest announces partnership in undersea fibre-optic network

Jan 17, 2018

PRINCE RUPERT – Today, CityWest announced its participation in an innovative and ambitious partnership that will see a subsea fibre run from the North Coast to Vancouver Island, to provide thousands of customers in coastal B.C. with better Internet.

“By building this infrastructure, we’re bringing the benefits of improved telecommunications to providers in communities along the coast,” said Chris Marett, CEO of CityWest. “I’d like to thank the provincial and federal governments for their support in connecting geographically remote communities in British Columbia.”

The fibre-optic cables will go undersea through the Inside Passage from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy, and will link up with a network owned by the Strathcona Regional District (SRD). The combined network will connect 154 communities along the North Coast and around Vancouver Island, including 44 First Nations Communities; the total length of the cable, both undersea and underground, is over 3.4 million metres.

“Improved broadband connectivity has been an identified need for rural and remote coastal communities for many years and addressing this need is a priority of our Board. We are excited about the announcement today as the Connected Coast project aims to provide critical infrastructure that will set the foundation for rural and remote communities to connect with high-speed Internet and access critical services and opportunities available to those in larger urban centres,” said SRD chair Michele Babchuk.

The project is supported by the federal and provincial governments through the “Connect to Innovate” program, with the total cost at $45.4 million.

“We have received tremendous support from all levels of government, including from First Nations communities, businesses, and community organizations all along the coast,” said Donovan Dias, Vice President of Sales & Project Management for CityWest. “In total, we received over 60 letters of support in very quick fashion. This level of interest illustrates the importance of this infrastructure project.”

An added benefit to CityWest is that the new undersea fibre will allow for redundancy – so if one part of the network goes down (due to a fibre cut, for instance), you can switch over the other part of the network to keep everyone’s services up.

“Redundancy is something we’ve been looking at for a long time,” said Marett. “Residents and businesses in the North will definitely benefit from this project, purely from a reliability perspective.”

The project is set to start in early-2018 with more detailed studies and engagement. It is anticipated to take 3-4 years to complete with phased construction.

“This is a transformative moment for both the company and the North Coast. Reliable, rapid internet access allows our communities to transact in the 21st century, on the same platform as anyone in Vancouver,” said Robert Long, Chair of the Board for CityWest. 

“We believe that connectivity in rural and First Nations communities is vital to growing local economies, increasing access to services and  opening doors to healthcare and education -- improving the lives of people across British Columbia,” said Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims. “As we move forward with partners like CityWest, I am eager to hear the stories of the people, businesses, and families whose lives will change with better access to the wider digital world.”