Kelowna is reaping rewards of dark fibre investment running under city streets - InfoNews

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Kelowna is reaping rewards of dark fibre investment running under city streets

Some Kelowna repaving projects include laying Dark Fibre cable underneath the asphalt.
September 01, 2019 - 7:00 AM

KELOWNA - It took almost a decade of slowly burying fibre optic cables under Kelowna city streets before any light was turned on.

But today, the city’s dark fibre network is savings hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars as well as bringing in revenue from a dozen businesses that also reap big savings and more efficiency by using the city’s network.

“The initial reason for the City to do it was to save money for the City itself,” Robert Fine, the city’s director of business and entrepreneurial development told “We were paying upwards of a quarter million dollars a year to move data between our facilities. Also, some of the upload speeds were not of the quality that we needed to more effectively work local government here in Kelowna.”

Dark fibre generally refers to fibre optic cables and networks that have extra, unused capacity. It describes a typical installation made for future demand and leased to customers.

It was back in the mid-2000s that the City of Kelowna started laying conduit for the cable under key roads as they were being repaved. It wasn’t until 2015 that the network was brought to life, at that time just to serve the City of Kelowna - and saving the city "a couple hundred thousands of dollars a year," Fine said.

Business were brought on board at $1,000 per month initially when they had been paying $10,000 to $15,000 a month for sometimes slow internet from commercial carriers, Fine said.

There are now a dozen customers for the service, including high-tech business in the Landmark and Innovation centres. UBCO just signed on after waiting for John Hindle Drive to be completed. Kelowna Airport will come onto the system soon.

Not only is it serving existing businesses and agencies, it’s also attracting new ones.

The animation company Bardel Entertainment chose its location near the corner of Abbott and Lawrence because the dark fibre cable only had to be extended a block and a half to be hooked up, Fine said.

It launched its Kelowna office in 2013 with four employees and has now grown to more than 80, according to its web site.

As well, Fine takes some credit for increasing competition in Kelowna and bringing Internet prices down for businesses.

The city’s cable has 500 “data pairs” so Fine doesn’t see it ever becoming full.

More information on the city's Dark Fibre network can be viewed here.

A map of the 32-km, ever-expanding network can be viewed here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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