Partnership announced in $12 million Six Nations fibre optic project

Fibre optic internet is coming closer to being a reality on Six Nations after First Nations Cable announced a partnership with major players in the communications industry last week.

Acronym Solutions Inc. (formerly Hydro One Telecom) announced a partnership with First Nations Cable (FNC), Net-Neutral Inc., and AANAKWAD Inc. last week that will enable broadband connectivity to Six Nations residents and beyond.

This is the first Indigenous-led project of its kind.

The partnership, led by FNC, Net-Neutral Inc., and AANAKWAD (Ojibwe for “The Cloud”) Inc. and supported by Six Nations Elected Chief and Council, Acronym Solutions Inc. will enable backbone broadband internet connectivity to FNC, who will extend the infrastructure to deliver broadband access to members and local businesses on Six Nations.

“This day has been a long, hard fight for us,” said First Nations Cable President Jeff Thomas during a special announcement of the partnership at The Gathering Place last Wednesday.

Once a municipal agreement is in place, construction should begin, said Thomas.

Pits have already been dug along Hwy. 54.

“That’s going to be our fibre network coming in from Middleport,” said Thomas. “We’re working on permits right now. That’s the only hold up.”

Once the municipal agreement is in place, construction can begin.

“That will be a very exciting day,” said Thomas.

Fibre optic Internet will go live by mid-September at the latest, he estimates.

“It’s not an easy thing to put together. We had to put it together in portions. It’s been very hard work and tedious work. In order to bring this to Six Nations, it’s going to take all four companies to do their part.”

Obtaining financing for the project presented many hurdles for Thomas.

After jumping through hoops to get financing, the partnerships he’s created will help First Nations Cable finally move forward with the fibre installation.

Because of Thomas’s assets being on-reserve, getting a traditional loan from the bank was almost impossible, as it is for most aspiring entrepreneurs on the reserve.

“We cannot use that (on-reserve assets) as collateral,” said Thomas. “That’s kind of the way things went.”

Six Nations businessman Miles Hill stepped forward to help, said Thomas.

“We’ve been very fortunate (that he got involved in the project).”

By running fibre into every household on Six Nations, community members will finally have high-speed home Internet.

The pandemic saw most of the community working and learning from home during lockdowns which presented challenges for residents with slow Internet services trying to access live meetings virtually.

“If anything like that ever happens again, we’re prepared for it,” said Thomas.

With the new partnership, Six Nations will now be prepared to deliver reliable broadband services to Six Nations.

“We are proud to be part of this innovative project,” said John Papadakis, President and CEO of Acronym Solutions Inc., “We are committed to helping our customers reach their full potential by providing creative solutions to complex technical challenges.  This project gives us the opportunity to work in close partnership with FNC, Net-Neutral Inc. and AANAKWAD Inc. to enable further economic development within Six Nations and beyond.  The success of this partnership demonstrates how much is possible when all parties work towards a common goal. We look forward to building on this long-term partnership to help bring broadband connectivity to many currently underserved communities across Ontario.”

Acronym Solutions Inc. (formerly Hydro One Telecom) is a full-service Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company that provides a range of scalable and secure network connectivity, cloud, cybersecurity and operational solutions.

First Nations Cable has been serving the Six Nations of the Grand River since 1989 and has been licensed by the CRTC since 1992.

First Nations Cable and Six Nations Internet have been pioneers of broadband connectivity in the community.

“Recent times have shown us just how important Internet service is, not just for entertainment but as a crucial part of business and education,” said Thomas. “Over the years, we have continually invested in our infrastructure to improve service for our customers. We make strides in performance and reliability every day.”

Net-Neutral Inc. is a carrier neutral, high-performance internet, computing and cloud service provider.  Net-Neutral Inc. built and then upgraded the CKRZ transmitter from 250 watts to 5000 watts.

AANAKWAD Inc. (Ojibwa for “The Cloud”) is a wholly Indigenous licensed internet service provider from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

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