Internet speeds economic development in Powell River

New residents attribute fibre optics as determining factor in move

Fibre-optic availability means business for Powell River. The infrastructure is an important part of City of Powell River’s resident-attraction campaign and, because of it, people have moved to the city to live and work.

“It was an extremely important factor when we were looking to move here because we needed reliable, dedicated internet,” said David Repa, founder of Vancouver-based computer business The Hackery and new resident to the area. “We know fibre works well to make sure the activities we need to do over our virtual private network would not be disturbed. We always have a guaranteed speed.”

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According to Telus, Powell River was one of the first communities where a PureFibre installation gave residents access to internet speeds up to 150 megabits per second, and even faster speeds for businesses.

“This means any business, be it a tech startup, an architect or design house, a videographer or photographer, can make Powell River home and have access to the same or even faster speeds found in metropolitan centres,” said Telus senior communications manager Liz Sauvé. “It also means people who are able to work from home or remotely can settle in Powell River and enjoy a lightning-fast connection, making it easy to download and upload files almost instantly.”

City of Powell River mayor Dave Formosa announced in December, 2014, that Telus would be installing fibre optic. At the time, Formosa said it would be an attraction for the type of entrepreneur the city was looking for through its resident-attraction campaign and a magnet for databank, game creators and other business requiring large data files. According to new residents such as Repa, it is a huge factor in relocating.

“If somebody was looking to move here and they did movie editing, or someone who is a game creator, the ability to move large data is going to be very important,” said Repa.

According to Theo Rosenfeld, who commutes to Vancouver three days per week and telecommutes the other two as co-founder of Engage Data, consistency and reliability is the biggest bonus of fibre optic.

“Before the fibre-optic cable was hooked up there were many times I had to cancel or dropout of a meeting, which didn’t do very well for contract negotiations or design meetings with clients,” said Rosenfeld. “Now that the fibre-optic cable is in place, that has never been the case. I have a steady connection and I know I’ll be able to have my meetings when I schedule them.”

One of Powell River’s new tech residents, Thomas Gray, is a telecommuter with Perforce Technologies in California.

“Quite frankly, with fibre I get a better internet connection here than when I was living in Victoria or Vancouver,” said Gray.

The fibre infrastructure in the region was a determining factor in where Gray chose to live when he moved last year. According to Gray, he would not have purchased a home in Powell River if a high-speed internet connection was not available, and fibre provided that.

“We overlaid the fibre map with the houses for sale map and picked a spot in an area that overlapped,” he said. “I went from a 900-square-foot condo to a 12-acre property. That’s my office now.”

According to city manager of economic development Scott Randolph, until Statistics Canada starts rolling out new census data next February, only anecdotal information on the impact of fibre on business in Powell River is available.

“Having the fibre optic available has added one more piece of the puzzle in regard to providing attractive incentives for people to come here,” said Randolph. “It’s not the only reason, but it’s now one of those deciding factors.”

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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