Telus chief customer officer Tony Geheran, from left, Williams Lake Indian Band elder Victorine Alphonse, Chief Willie Sellars, Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims and Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb celebrate Sims’ announcement that WLIB is receiving provincial funding to help upgrade internet connectivity for the community. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

VIDEO: Williams Lake Indian Band getting fast internet in 2020

The provincial government announced Monday it is contributing $177,000 of the $345,000 project costs

With the lake, green fields, trees and mountains in the backdrop, Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims announced government funding for internet improvements at Williams Lake Indian Band.

“Affordable and reliable high-speed internet can open new doors for rural and Indigenous communities,” Sims said, as she confirmed the government is providing $177,000 for WLIB toward a $345,000 project to upgrade internet speeds. “Telus’s new fibre network will provide community members with reliable internet access.”

Sims said the internet speed will be similar to what people in urban areas of B.C. enjoy.

Since July 2017, there have been projects underway to improve internet in 83 Indigenous communities and in the 2019 budget, an additional $50 million was earmarked for expanding high-speed internet access for people living in rural and Indigenous communities, Sims added.

Read more: High-speed internet coming to 200 rural B.C. communities

Chief Willie Sellars said the project is a “massive” win for his community and First Nations people in the region.

“Telus stepping up to offer high speed internet to First Nations across the board is something we do not take lightly at the WLIB,” he said. “Living through generations of dial-up internet has given me the excitement about what fibre optics is going to be able to do for this community.”

Tony Geheran, chief customer officer for Telus, said construction will begin in the spring of 2020 and it is expected every home and business will be fully connected later that summer.

“You won’t be having similar connectivity to people in the Lower Mainland, you will have equal or better internet connectivity, it will not be lesser quality.”

The project is being made possible through a collaboration with the Connecting British Columbia program funded by the province and administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.

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