The high-speed Internet of the future is at Six Nations’ doorstep.
On October 3rd, the first part of a long-awaited fiber optic installation project will go live.
Jeff Thomas, owner of First Nations Cable, who led the project, said the installation of fiber optic cable will take Six Nations well into the future.
“We’re pretty excited about that. That’s a length of one hundred gigabytes that we determined. That’s a phenomenal achievement. I know there are communities that clamor 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 build is something for the future.”
Fiber optic internet uses a network of fiber optic cables to transmit high-speed data over longer distances.
Data literally travels down the wires at the speed of light, experts say, 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 has highlighted the urgent need for faster internet services on Six Nations when everyone was working from home and holding meetings over Zoom.
“One thing Covid has done is it has identified all the problems on the network. It doesn’t matter who they are… they all had issues with their networks and Covid proved that to everyone. This link we are building is something from the future. It is something that is needed here and will sustain our needs for the future.”
The technology has been developed for years while Thomas has attempted to bring fiber to Six Nations, from planning, setup, proposals, mapping to the actual installation, which just completed this summer. The cable will be laid from Middleport to First Nations Cable offices on Fourth Line Road.
“The real fiber is in the ground. We did the test. Everything is over. We are waiting for Hydro One. They had an issue with some of their hardware and needed an upgrade.”
He said he was hoping they would test the system earlier this week.
The final step of the project, which Thomas calls the last mile, is the actual fiber that feeds all Six Nations.
“The government made it really difficult for us to sign this contract.”
But he is confident it should be signed within the next two weeks.
“As soon as that is in place, we can start our project.”
This already installed line, costing $1.4 million, is what Thomas describes as the backbone of the fiber project.
“That last part is the actual grant we’re trying to establish.”
The design for the project is complete, he said, which will include fiber optic cables running through the reserve.
“We’re waiting. I hope we should have good news in the next week or so.”
Concerned about funding while he works to complete the project, Thomas asked the elected council to co-sign a loan application with the bank.
“Trying to get $11 million from the government is going to be a chore and a half,” he said.
He says it will take about two to three years for all homes on the reservation to have high-speed internet.
The elected council agreed to stand up for Thomas.
They want to go live with the first cable on October 3rd.