More than 1,200 Similkameen homes now have access to faster internet

The $5.8 million project upgraded the internet infrastructure to fibre-optics

High speed internet has arrived in the Similkameen. (Black Press Media file)

High speed internet has arrived in the Similkameen. (Black Press Media file)

People living in seven First Nations communities and three towns along Highway 3 now have access to high-speed internet according to the B.C. government.

The provincial government announced on April 13, that the completed project now delivers fibre-optic internet for the Lower Similkameen Indian Band communities of Alexis 9, Ashnola 10, Blind Creek 6, Chopaka 7 and 8, and the community of Chuchuwayha 2 in the Upper Similkameen Indian Band, as well as the towns of Cawston, Hedley and Olalla.

The Similkameen Valley upgrades come as part of the province’s Connecting British Columbia project, which provided access to faster internet to Keremeos in 2021, and to more rural communities since 2019.

“The upgrade to connectivity for the Similkameen area will support people, businesses and communities in their ability to work, learn and stay healthy with reliable high-speed internet,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development and MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to reliable, high-speed internet for all people – whether it’s for safety, for health care or for economic development. We know how these needs are especially important in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.”

READ MORE: Keremeos homes and businesses see 40 times faster wifi

To upgrade the infrastructure along Highway 3, $3.7 million was contributed towards the $5.8 million total cost through the Connecting British Columbia program. The remaining $2.1 million for the project was contributed by Telus Communications Inc.

“The Upper Similkameen Indian Band was very grateful to be a part of the Telus Pure Fibre project. Our people, business and surrounding communities will truly benefit from having high-speed internet as it has given us the ability to communicate during these unprecedented times and for many years to come,” said Chief Bonnie Jacobsen, Coun. Mike Allison and Coun. Charlie Allison.

The 10 communities in Similkameen along Highway 3 were previously served via a fixed wireless network delivering maximum internet speed at 25 megabytes per second. The installation of a new fibre optic cable for each community will now allow Telus to offer speeds of up to 1.5 gigabytes per second.

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Internet and Telecom