Posted on 29 August 2012 by Keith Lacey
The fact businesses in the Town of Osoyoos are at a competitive disadvantage due to the lack of high-speed Internet services being offered in this community has become a worrisome problem, says Mayor Stu Wells.
“This is an absolutely huge issue in my opinion,” said Wells, who answered questions following a presentation to members of Town of Osoyoos council early last week by Andrew Allin, who owns One Information Technology, which provides Internet services to the town on a contract basis.
“The reality is we’re getting Third World Internet service in this town. It’s not good enough to run most home businesses with this kind of service and it’s a cause for real concern.”
During his recent presentation, Allin said broadband Internet service throughout the Osoyoos and the Oliver area is one of the poorest in the entire province.
“It’s just not up to standards,” said Allin. “Anything south of Okanagan Falls is just very poor. I feel companies will have a competitive advantage over businesses in Osoyoos because the high-speed broadband Internet service you’re getting here simply isn’t good enough.”
After doing a detailed analysis of the Internet services being used at town hall and talking to staff, Allin said he was shocked at how slow the service is compared to municipalities in other areas of the province.
In Penticton, information moves along the technological highway at five megabytes per second, compared to one quarter of one megabyte here in Osoyoos, said Allin.
Small businesses in today’s economy need the capability to share detailed information at rapid speed, said Allin.
Being able to download and upload detailed engineering documents and plans can only be done quickly and efficiently with access to high-speed Internet service – something which has become a serious problem in this community, he said.
Allin presented numerous options to members of council, including accessing fibre optic cables or working with current providers and asking them to improve current infrastructure to provide more broadband capability.
“We need to do something,” he said. “If you’re attempting to attract home offices or getting more people to work from home, we can’t really do it now.”
Following Allin’s presentation, Wells said he found it “shocking” Internet services being provided in Osoyoos were so far lagging behind other communities and insisted something needs to be done.
“We need a big upgrade here,” he said. “It may have serious budget implications, but we need to do something. I really hope we can move forward on this soon because we need a solution.”
As a new board member with the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT), a new economic development agency started by the provincial government, Wells said there may be funding available to municipal governments looking to upgrade technological infrastructure.
“A couple of small towns in the Kootenays each received $50,000 to upgrade their service … so we might be able to look there as a starting point,” said Wells.
Allin’s presentation drove home to him and council that the largest providers of Internet service has ignored this part of the province for too long, said Wells.
“We’re looking at attracting businesses to this community and any business owner is going to check out things like high-speed service and the quality of the Internet and it upsets me we might lose a business opportunity because of the lack of service we have in this town,” said Wells.
“This is an issue we’re going to have to take a serious look at very soon. It could have some serious budget implications, but we can’t ignore what’s going on here.”