Ratepayers across the Municipality of Rhineland can look forward to fast and secure Internet service in the near future.
Council has inked a deal with Valley Fiber to bring dedicated FTTH (Fiber To The Home) in all towns and villages in the municipality (Gretna, Rosenfeld, Plum Coulee, Horndean, Rosengart, Schonwiese, Gnadenfeld, Reinland, Gnadenthal, Neuhorst, Blumenort, Rosetown, Sommerfeld, Neubergthal), as well as FTTT (Fiber To The Tower) to expand the reach to those in rural areas. According to a news release, the fiber build is not a typical shared service but rather a dedicated service to each home and business which means “guaranteed” not “up-to” speeds to the premise.
Over the next two years, the Municipality will be investing $600,000 into the necessary infrastructure.
Reeve Don Wiebe says now discussions will begin on some of the finer details like when work will start and what the Municipality needs to do to make it happen.
"The timelines are unfolding. They will be starting this year and next year...the details of the plan we are still talking to them about," he explained. "Hopefully it's done by the end of 2021."
Considering the current COVID-19 situation, Wiebe admits it would have been nice to have this network in place a bit sooner.
"For example, in terms of what the schools are trying to do via the Internet and using that as a learning tool and a teaching tool, not everybody has Internet and that complicates that strategy," he explained. "If we can get more Internet into our communities, and this one includes all of the villages, that's a big step forward. It's kind of an equalizer for our municipality, that you're not penalized for living in a rural area."
Leading up to the agreement, Wiebe says Council did quite a lot of homework on what was the best course of action to improve service across Rhineland, including talking to national telecommunications companies and even considering the idea of partnering with Border Land School Division on its fiber network. After much research and what he says were lengthy negotiations, officials ultimately opted to go with the local company.
"We quickly realized we are not in the fiber/communication management business...and all of those other ones, when we looked down the road seemed to be much more cost-prohibitive," said Wiebe. "This way people can subscribe to the service, once it's in it requires no maintenance by the Municipality so we said this option makes the most sense."
Wiebe says this investment will position Rhineland for future growth and economic development.