Enniskillen Township is trying to help its residents who don’t have Internet access.
Much of the municipality was left without service when Industry Canada allowed Bell Canada to abandon a rural internet service set up for south Lambton to provide better cellular service. The Internet customers were left with few choices – some only able to access a costly mobile wireless system through Bell.
Even the township’s municipal building faced the prospect of no Internet when the service was cut.
But Mayor Kevin Marriott worked with a local provider (SLICC) to place a tower on the Petrolia water tower to provide service to the areas of the township near the town.
That got him thinking about what other low-cost solutions could be implement to provide service to a wide swath of land which has no access now. It includes the eastern part of Enniskillen from Petrolia Line to Dawn-Euphemia and the west side south of Petrolia Line to Mandaumin Line.
So the municipality has applied to Industry Canada to build a 150-foot tower at the Oil Springs/Oil City Water Reservoir Site on Oil Heritage Road. Marriott says the township is working with Brooke-Telecom on a service agreement for high-speed Internet bounced from the municipally owned tower.
“They (Brooke-Telecom) have a tower in Inwood that they can bounce it off of,” he says. “If this all works, it should be able to cover that dead area.”
Marriott estimates 75 homes in Enniskillen could be served with the possibility of some Oil Springs residents also being able to get service. He estimates the bill would amount to between $80 and $85 per month for unlimited service – a price he says many residents are willing to pay.
Marriott says many residents pay a minimum $50 per month, if they can get Internet service. Some are paying as much as $200 per month.
The mayor says the municipality will have to spend about $25,000 to build the tower, but says the money will likely be recouped through Internet rates over a period of seven years.
Marriott says the application for the tower is now in Industry Canada’s hands and the public has until Sept. 14 to comment on the project. Once approval has been given, Marriott says it will take a matter of months to get the service up and running – hopefully by the fall.
And the mayor says the project could serve as test for other Lambton County municipalities facing the same problem. The county is currently considering a regional project called SWIFT to bring fiber optics to the areas without service. It’s being asked to contribute about $1 million.
“There are so many solutions out there other than SWIFT,” says Marriott. “I think we could connect the whole county this way.
“It’s far better than putting money toward fiber optics that won’t be here for 25 years.”