Customers in Lac La Biche County will soon have better internet service.
The Lac La Biche County Council were presented a update on the progress of the Telus PureFibre project in Lac La Biche County at the most recent council meeting.
Dan Small, CPA, CMA, Associate CAO, Finance and Planning with Lac La Biche County says the most recent report was on July 21, and presented this information to council on Aug 3.
“Construction is ongoing and progressing well, on track to have all customers online in 2021,” Small presented. “County field staff and staff for TELUS and their contractors work together on a daily basis to get the project completed. Senior County staff and members of the TELUS team have a project meeting (an “interlock”) on a biweekly basis.”
Small says part of the build is buried fibre and part of the build is aerial. TELUS’ overall strategy is to focus on the buried sections first, while FORTIS completes their aerial work before TELUS starts.
Small told elected officials once their poles are ready for TELUS, the buried work will be completed, and TELUS will transition to the aerial pole work.
TELUS has approximately 40 per cent of the buried construction work completed, with overall construction completeness at approximately 25 per cent.
“The total costs of the project are over $13 million. The County’s share of these costs is approximately $6.849 million,” Small told Council. “This is not a cost – shared project. TELUS has final ownership and operational responsibilities for the fibre infrastructure.”
The County’s share is coming out of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 operating budgets of $2.283 million each year. Payment of the second installment is currently being made.
Small presented the following highlights from the project so far:
- TELUS is still on track to have the first customers online by late August in FSA 4011A (the area on the west side, airport, Mission road, and industrial areas). FSA 4011A is nearly completed. Civil construction will wrap up by the end of July. Fibre placing inside the conduits and private property service drop work will continue in August.
- The project is still on track for full project completion and all customers online in 2021 (November is the last online date). TELUS reports that the overall community sentiment has been great. People have been generally welcoming and excited to get the service. There have only been a handful of minor escalations.
- The proposed Hylo tower coverage area has been confirmed, with good coverage along Highway 663 from Lac La Biche to the County boundary. In addition, an area east of Hylo where historical documented service complaints to TELUS were made is also going to be served by this tower. Land acquisition for the tower is ongoing. It is hoped that construction of the tower will commence this fall.
- In another TELUS tower matter not related to this project, another TELUS department is proposing a new 30-metre tower near the bypass between Beaver Hill Road and the Ramada Hotel to address current outstanding cellular capacity issues. Land acquisition for this tower is also ongoing.
- There have been some enquiries for fibre service from County residents not in the map area. The County has previously indicated that once this project is completed, and existing tower sites re-optimized, that the County will review future broadband needs in the County with TELUS and plan future service improvements.
- Lac La Biche County and TELUS have historically reviewed the federal Universal Broadband Fund and the new $150 million provincial rural broadband investment under the Alberta Recovery Plan and will pursue funding for local projects where it makes sense.
Councillor George L’Heureux of Lac La Biche County commented to administration, “Nice to know where we’re at and where we stand with it but I guess my question is more towards the tower, where are we in construction, are we in the construction phase yet or are we still looking for land, or where are we with that?”
“The County had offered the land suggestion as a start…but it turned out that the lands were not as good as we would have used on alternate sites. So we can get better coverage by going elsewhere and that’s also what TELUS wants to see as well,” Small told Elected Officials. “There’s also an area that they’ve had historical service complaints and this new area would cover that too. They’re in the process of getting land for it and they hope to start construction this Fall.”
With regards to the tower site, the Mayor of Lac La Biche Omer Moghrabi said, “I think and feel a little bit of patience is needed to get the right site to get the most coverage which is as crucial for us.”
This project was awarded to TELUS in accordance with the Agreement on Internal Trade and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement.
Administration will continue to communicate to the community on the progress of this project, as well as future additions, keeping in mind that this is a TELUS project first and foremost.