Tilbury Industrial Park and Annacis Island are within months of finally having high-speed internet.
Telus is in the process of installing fibre optic cables in both industrial areas as part of a Canada-wide multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment.
The fibre cables are designed to replace existing Telus coaxial cables and copper wires — the current methods of transmitting wired internet. According to Telus vice-president of broadband implementation Zouheir Mansourati, the fibre optic cables will be more durable and significantly faster than current cable options.
Although Annacis and Tilbury are considered two of the top four business parks in the Lower Mainland according to the Delta Chamber of Commerce, the areas have heretofore experienced significantly slower network speeds than other parts of the Lower Mainland.
According to Drew Carlisle, owner of Pacific Medical Technologies Inc., Annacis Island was still using dial-up when he moved his business there in the early 2000s.
“It was really shocking,” he said. Carlisle had moved his business to Annacis Island after operating in another part of Delta for nearly a decade.
“We were on higher speed internet, cable internet, at our old office,” he continued. “Then we moved to the island — because it was the place to have a business … and they’re like, ‘Oh, we don’t have high speed internet on Annacis Island.’
“I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Like, Annacis Island. It was, at a time, the hub of the universe for Vancouver commerce.”
Pacific Medical Technologies has three locations across Canada that provide equipment and services to eye doctors. Internet is key for not only communicating with his team, but also sending and receiving documents and floor plans from his clients.
Yvonne Anderson, vice chair of the Delta Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Santevia Water Systems Inc. in Tilbury, also experienced internet shock when she moved her business to the park four and a half years ago.
“I go to sign up for internet and I find out there isn’t anything faster than five up, five down,” she said.
Five up, five down is a colloquial way of saying the internet has an upload speed of five megabytes per second and a download speed of five megabytes per second.
“That was like O.M.G.,” Anderson said. “What am I going to do? This is just not acceptable.”
Currently, Tilbury and Annacis Island are serviced by Telus, Eastlink and Shaw using coaxial cables, One Gigabit and Telus using fixed wireless, Galaxy Broadband and Xplornet using direct-to-home and Bell, Rogers, Telus and Freedom Mobile using mobile wireless.
The fibre optic cables being installed by Telus will provide speeds of up to 150 megabytes per second, and could eventually go as high as one gigabyte per second.
The cables are Telus infrastructure, meaning business owners who prefer to purchase their internet from other providers will not benefit from their increased speed.
“This is a multi-billion dollar investment,” Mansourati said. “It has to generate a return on investment in order to make sense.”
Eastlink, which is the parent company for Delta Cable, doesn’t have fibre optic cables in Annacis Island or Tilbury, although Eastlink’s media representative said in an email that the company will “evaluate opportunities to expand our fibre services where it is viable to do so.”
Shaw offers fibre cable networks, but it isn’t clear whether that infrastructure is available in Annacis Island or Tilbury. A call to the company’s media department has yet to be returned.
Businesses that aren’t planning to purchase internet from Telus can still have the company’s fibre optic cables installed at their business at no cost.
Telus will not be removing existing copper and coaxial cables used by other internet providers. Instead, the fibre cable will be an addition, following pre-existing aerial or underground wire infrastructure to connect to businesses. Small cells — internet transmitters — will be added to areas that have low speeds because of the distance from the main network hub or impediments like concrete buildings.
Officially, Telus began installing cables in the area in September. The installation process should be finished by November in Tilbury and December in Annacis Island. It could take up to two months after installation for a business to be able to upgrade to fibre optic internet.