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Thursday , 5 August 2021

Vermilion moves ahead with negotiations on providing broadband to community

Town council carried a motion authorizing staff to enter into negotiations with Digital Infrastructure Group towards a suitable broadband contract.

Following a request for proposal for a partner to deploy and operate an open-access broadband utility network, four interested parties made submissions, and Digital Infrastructure Group was selected.

“The idea was to take the initiative to the next level, to bring fibre to the home and to the businesses in our community. We reviewed submissions in regards to financing, timing of deployment and risk, and the consensus was that Digital Infrastructure Group offered the most,” said councillor Robert Pulyk.

“To provide 10G service – this is the next level. That is huge for North America, and going up from 1G to 10G, we can’t imagine the type of businesses we will be able to attract as well as retain the businesses that we have. The benefit of our community going forward with a fibre network build out within two years, is that it will help us evolve our economic development platform and attain new businesses.”

Project lead, Mary Lee Prior, said they may even see shovels in the ground this year.

During the past three years, the town has been looking at whether or not broadband would function as a utility, and whether they can reach a partnership to provide service to residents.

Mayor Caroline McAuley said this will not impact the bottom line to the tax dollar, that the V-Net pilot project has come out of grant funding. The pilot project was initiated as a way to address the fact that existing and prospective businesses were struggling with and deterred by the current connectivity speeds.

“I’d like to thank council for their innovation and moving this project forward,” said Mary Lee Prior, economic development officer.

CAO George Rogers said, “Certainly we are looking forward as an administrative team for a contract that will be beneficial to the citizens of our community.”

The broadband committee is excited to begin negotiating with Digital Infrastructure Group, and though they were thankful to all of the RFP participants, they said things that stood out included their design build and an option for an equity stake.

About Angela Mouly

Angela comes to Lakeland Connect after leaving traditional newspaper where she spent the past four years reporting on community events. Her repertoire includes writing about history, politics, agriculture, sports, entertainment and art. She was the third place recipient of an AWNA General Excellence Award for “Best Front Page” during their 2016 Better Newspaper Competition. Angela has lived in rural Alberta all her life and in Vermilion for the past 15 years. She looks forward to continuing to serve and inform the Lakeland community by joining in people's many adventures and sharing their stories.