A $14 million fibre build in Williams Lake should be completed by the end of the year, said Telus general manager Bert Braybrook during a celebration held Friday in Williams Lake.
Speaking to guests and dignitaries gathered under a tent in Boitanio Park, Braybrook said fibre optics will offer access to world-class services and advanced technology.
“To the people who choose to connect to fibre optics, you are future-proofing your home and getting ready for technology that we will see soon in the future,” Braybrook said.
Before it was his turn to speak, Telus vice-president of broadband implementation Zouheir Mansourati hesitated.
“I promised I’d give a plug for a lady selling honey at the farmer’s market,” he smiled. “I tasted the honey personally and am taking a jar with me.”
Mansourati said Telus and the municipality share a vision to make Williams Lake one of the most connected cities in North America.
“This is where the opportunity lies in the fact you no longer have to be physically on location, you can be logically connected and do the job just as you would on location,” he said. “This is a generational investment and I feel lucky to be part of it.”
Mansourati also highlighted the advantage of the technology for education and health.
“In health care it can offer innovate in-home solutions for helping to manage the rising cost of care,” Mansourati said, noting Telus has been investing heavily in this area because it feels very strongly about the future of health care.
The fibre deployment comes at no cost to residents or businesses, he added.
“Moreover you don’t have to be a Telus customer to receive a fibre connection to your home, nor is the commitment to purchase the Telus service required once our work is complete.”
Presently the project is 90 per cent complete and citizens can expect to see the Telus team in the coming weeks visiting homes and businesses to provide information on getting connected, Mansourati said, confirming the boundary for service will be within the municipal boundary of Williams Lake.
However, he suggested if communities and clusters of homes came forward to Telus and said they want connectivity, the company would look at options, but said they would have to be economically viable.
Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said fibre optic technology will open up opportunities for Williams Lake.
“You have reasonable land, you have a university, a good hospital and a great community so now it’s up to you the City of Williams Lake to get out there and chase this opportunity,” Barnett said.
Mayor Walt Cobb thanked Telus for its commitment to helping Williams Lake be connected to the rest the world.
“We have no reason not to be the technology centre of B.C. from here on in,” Cobb said.
Among the guests enjoying the celebration was Graham Smith who arrived in Williams Lake in 1976 to work for Telus.
At the time there were two fax machines in the town — one at the government office and one at the RCMP detachment.
“Everyone west of the Fraser River had crank phones, except at Alexis Creek and Bella Coola where they had dial phones,” Smith said.
His service phone was ringing off the hook with people wanting to upgrade to dial phones, he recalled.
When they did get dial phones they shared those lines with 10 people on a party line.
“It was better because with crank phones they shared the line with 30 people,” he chuckled.
As the crowd dispersed, Smith’s remarks hung in the air as a reminder of how far technology has come in 40 years.