Irricana Town council is hoping to revisit its decision to withdraw from the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP), made effective March 31.
Following a report from administration about CRP’s proposed regional broadband Internet plan, Mayor Dennis Tracz motioned for administration to contact CRP to have a representative present to council details of membership benefits.
“It seems to me that they’re actually doing a lot more than we gave them credit for,” Tracz said.
CRP’s broadband consultant Craig Dobson met with Irricana’s Interim Chief Administrative Officer Dawn Mosondz about the plan to get faster broadband Internet connections into smaller municipalities.
The plan was based on the model created by Olds, which Mosondz said became its own service provider after no company came in to use the fibre network it built.
Individual municipalities would invest in fibre networks and bring a company in to use the system and provide service to residents while paying the municipality a share of the net ongoing revenue.
The bulk cost to building a fibre network is burying the lines, but Mosondz said Dobson assured her as long as Irricana’s poles are in good condition the Town wouldn’t have to bury much.
“We could use our existing poles to run the lines,” she said. “As subdivisions are built, lines could be buried there.”
Fibre would be 100 times more capable than what is currently offered to residents in the community, Mosondz said, adding there is a need for better Internet service to draw residents to Irricana.
“If people cannot get adequate service, they will go where they can get it,” she said.
CRP proposed a $100 per month triple play service that included voice, Internet and television, featuring 150 standard definition channels, dozens of high definition channels and Video on Demand servicing.
The initial fibre capital expense is about $500,000, Mosondz said, and based on a four per cent interest rate on a 20-year term the payments would cost the municipality about $3,030 a month.
According to Mosondz, if 40 per cent of the residents – about 182 households according to CRP’s estimate – use the service at $100 a month, the net revenue would be $18,200.
Tracz expressed concern about the entire investment of the service including the realistic cost to support the infrastructure, more detailed cost to the residents and whether the Town should consider becoming a service provider.
“There’s not a complete picture of cost,” he said. “When we have to pay for it out of taxpayers’ money, that’s a whole other decision.
“I think this need to be fleshed out more.”
More information on CRP’s broadband plan will be collected at a meeting on June 7. The entire concept will be presented to the public for discussion and input during the 2016 IdeaFest, which has yet to be scheduled.