Broadband Internet availability for Ponoka County rural residents and businesses may be just a few steps away.
CAO Charlie Cutforth told council recently that administration is reviewing the details of its contract with Corridor Communications with an eye to installing seven towers across the county this year.
County council would fund the seven towers at strategic locations across the county with Corridor Communications paying for a centrally-located tower “on their dime,” Cutforth explained, where because of population density, it would see a quicker return on the investment.
“What they’re looking for from the county is for the towers to cover the west’s more isolated parts and three on the east end of the county.
“We’d still be on the hook for seven towers,” Cutforth said. “Our cost is just over $1 million in total.”
The chances are good that half of the cost would be recovered through a grant.
Corridor Communications would repay the cost of the towers over the next 18 years and allow competitors to co-locate on the towers.
“They have four locations identified with the intention of proceeding with construction in the immediate future,” Cutforth said. “They’ve got their approvals from the CRTC and so on.”
Three locations in the east end of the county remain to be identified.
Even with the seven towers, Cutforth expects there will be some isolated areas that won’t receive service right away. One such area has been identified as the Homeglen valley near the intersection of secondary highways 771 and 611 near the border with the County of Wetasskiwin.
For areas out of range of the towers, Cutforth suggested council might want to consider one-time financial support to help those residents to install a satellite system. There’s also a likelihood when the surrounding counties of Wetaskiwin and Lacombe install Internet towers they would cover the dead spots in Ponoka County.
No timetable was announced.