By Chad Ingram
Published Nov. 21 2017
A project connecting a number of municipal facilities to the internet or upgrading their internet services is mostly complete and has come in under budget.
In early 2016 with support from its four lower-tier municipalities Haliburton County entered into an agreement with Bell for the provision of internet service to municipally owned buildings.
Twenty sites had fibre installed or had their fibre service upgraded to accommodate higher speeds. These buildings include the county office on Newcastle Street in Minden; the Minden Hills Highlands East Algonquin Highlands and Dysart et al administrative offices; the Dorset Recreation Centre/library/Algonquin Highlands office on Main Street in Dorset; the Tory Hill and Minden EMS bases; the Paudash fire hall in Highlands East; the Oxtongue Lake fire hall in Algonquin Highlands; the the Minden Hills Cultural Centre and library branch; the Dysart library branch; the Wilberforce library branch; the West Guilford Community Centre; the Dysart arena; the Minden arena; the Rails End Gallery; and the Stanhope Airport.
Fibre is yet to be installed at the Harcourt Community Centre. The former community centre burned down two years ago and a report from county IT director Mike March indicated that fibre is expected to be installed at the site before the opening of the new community centre.
As a report for March explained “for the majority of sites there was no capital costs to implement fibre optics internet. For five of the 20 locations there was a capital build cost to be paid by the county estimated to be $357000. This was to be partially funded from $231257 sitting in a broadband reserve with the remainder built into the 2017 budget. On top of that $15000 was required by IT for small capital and for its preparation costs (electrical work trenching for underground duct etc.).”
However the work was completed for far less than anticipated.
“The final cost for the five sites with capital build expenditures payable by the county is $186738 an approximate 48 per cent savings over the estimated $357000 quoted by Bell. It is recommended that the remaining $170262 will remain in the reserve to be used for future broadband projects.”
The project entailed the laying of some 70 kilometres of fibre in the county and March told councillors during a Nov. 8 meeting of the county’s finance and correspondence committee that as a result he was aware of at least 20 instances where local businesses have ordered fibre services and have not had to pay any provisioning costs. Along with that benefit the project eliminated connectivity issues at the Algonquin Highlands and Highlands East offices; solved Wi-Fi capacity issues at the Dysart and Minden library branches; expanded the Wi-Fi coverage areas outside the Minden Dysart and Wilberforce arenas; and created point-to-point wireless networks for municipal buildings close to fibre connection. For example March’s report indicated the new Minden Hills fire hall when completed will obtain its internet signal wirelessly from the nearby county EMS base.
Signing a 10-year contract with Bell is allowing the county to save between 40 and 60 per cent on its bill for fibre and DSL internet service and in addition to the 20 fibre sites 18 other locations using DSL were integrated into the contract.
The request for proposals for the contract was put out through the Eastern Ontario Regional Network and included similar contracts for its other member municipalities.