The high-speed Internet of the future is at Six Nations’ doorstep.
On Oct. 3, the first part of a long-awaited fibre optic installation project will go live.
First Nations Cable owner Jeff Thomas, who spearheaded the project, said the fibre optic cable installation will see Six Nations well into the future.
“We’re pretty excited about that. That’s a hundred gigabyte length we’ve established. That’s a phenomenal feat. I know there are municipalities that are crying for something like this. It’s a link to the future. It’s not just a band-aid or just enough to suffice what our needs are now. What we’re building is something for the future.”
Fibre Internet uses a network of fibre optic cables to deliver high-speed data over greater distances.
The data travels down the cables in what experts say is literally at the speed of light, meaning customers are more likely to get faster download speeds and a more reliable connection to the Internet.
Thomas told Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council at a meeting last week that the pandemic highlighted the dire need for faster Internet services on Six Nations, when everybody was working from home and holding meetings via Zoom.
“One thing Covid did is it identified all the problems on the network. It doesn’t matter who they are…everybody had trouble with their networks and Covid proved that to everybody. This link we’re building is something out of the future. It’s something that is needed here and will sustain what our needs are for the future.”
The technology has been years in the making during Thomas’s quest bringing fibre optics to Six Nations, from the planning, set up, proposals, mapping up to the actual installation, which was just completed this summer. The cable is installed from Middleport to First Nations Cable’s office on Fourth Line Road.
“The actual fibre is in the ground. We did the testing. It’s all passed. We’re waiting on Hydro One. They ran into a problem with some of their hardware and they needed an upgrade.”
He said he had hoped by the beginning of this week, they’d be testing the system.
The final step of the project, which Thomas calls the last mile, is the actual fibre to feed all of Six Nations.
“The government has really given us a hard time with getting this contract signed.”
But he’s confident it should be signed within the next two weeks.
“Once that’s in place, we’ll be able to start our project.”
This line that’s already been installed, at a cost of $1.4 million, is what Thomas refers to as the backbone of the fibre optic project.
“This last part is the actual grant that we’re trying to establish.”
The design for the project is done, he said, which involves fibre optic cables running throughout the reserve.
“We’re waiting. I’m hoping in the next week or so we should have good news.”
Thomas is concerned about financing as he works to complete the project and he asked elected council to co-sign a loan application to the bank.
“Trying to get $11 million out of the government is going to be a chore and a half,” he said.
He says it will take about two to three years to get high-speed Internet to all the homes on the reserve.
Elected council agreed to advocate on Thomas’s behalf.
They want to go live with the first cable on Oct. 3.