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Bell investing $100 million to bring ‘all-fibre network’ to Oshawa

Services expected to be available in fall 2018

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Canada’s largest telecommunications company plans to invest more than $100 million to bring its preeminent technology to the city.
Last week, Bell announced the plans to bring its all-fibre optic network to approximately 60,000 homes and business locations throughout Oshawa.

Bell claims their all-fibre network will provide internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit (GB) per second, both for downloads and uploads, with the capability to ultimately deliver speeds of 40 GB per second and more in the future.

“With the Gigabit Fibre service enabled by Bell FTTP, customers can download a 10 MB photo in a tenth of a second or an entire 3 GB high-definition movie in just 24 seconds,” the media release states.

The current highest internet speeds available through Bell in Oshawa is 100 mb/second, but vice-president marketing communications Nicolas Poitras says most customers have speeds of 25 mb/second.

“That multiples that amount by 40 times,” Poitras says.

There are a minority of customers in the city who already have access to the all-fibre network, but Poitras says they are strictly in recently developed neighborhoods where new infrastructure has been built.

The Oshawa network is part of the company’s plans to bring the all-fibre network to more than a 1.3 homes million in the GTA and 905 regions.

Bell will partner with Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation (OPUC) and contractor Telecon, which has offices in Whitby and Port Perry, to install 240 kilometres of new fibre underground and on hundreds of existing Bell and OPUC poles.

The release states residents and businesses in Oshawa can expect to have access to the all-fibre network by fall 2018, with work already underway.

Oshawa Mayor John Henry says the city “welcome[s] Bell’s investment in Oshawa to provide our residents, businesses and visitors with access to truly world-class internet connectivity.”

Henry added that “high speed networks are a primary driver of growth and innovation” and will build on Oshawa’s 2015 designation as a ‘Smart21 Community’ by the Intelligent Community Forum.

This marks the second large-scale announcement of fibre network investment in Oshawa over the past year.

Last year, FlashFibr announced it was investing $400 million over the next four years for the construction of a new fibre optic network in the city.

In May 2017, FlashFibr CEO Howard Morton said the initial plan was to offer services  to businesses and institutions by the end of June 2017, and residents later in the summer.

However, those dates passed, and public updates remained scant throughout the rest of the year.

In December, Morton advised The Oshawa Express in an email that the project had “encountered unexpected delays” but was moving forward with a revised launch date of spring 2018.

Rania Walker, a spokesperson on behalf of the company, told The Oshawa Express the company now “expects to start singing customers up this summer.”

“Over the last year, they have met with nearly a thousand residents and businesses and are committed to bringing Canada’s best Internet solutions to Durham Region,” Walker stated in an email.

A request for more information on the delays faced by FlashFibr were not returned as of the Oshawa Express press deadline.

telMAX is another company with plans of expanding access to fibre-optic networks in Oshawa.

Fredrik Alatalo, chief administrative officer for telMAX, says they currently already offer Internet, television, phone and IT services for customers who are looking to switch from other companies.

“We are hoping to help those customers with high bills,” he says. “It’s significant that we can actually connect customers.”

On top of existing services, Alatalo says the company continues to expand and plans to install another 100 km of fibre-optic cable in area, with speeds of up to one GB higher per second to be available soon and higher speeds down the line.

While they plan on offering services in other Durham communities, Oshawa is the “prime focus” of the company.

telMax is nearing the completion of its headquarters, on Elderberry Drive in the city’s north end, which will serve as a data centre for their services.

To Alatalo, telMAX is in the fortunate position of being able to build their new infrastructure “from scratch.”