Joint City of Nelson, RDCK project has potential to increase business for region
In a combined effort aimed at generating new revenue streams and cutting government costs, the City of Nelson and Regional District of the Central Kootenay (RDCK) are celebrating the launch of a valuable and innovative shared fibre optic communications line.
With the help of Nelson Hydro and local technology contractor DHC Communications, a 144-strand fiber optic cable capable of transmitting literally billions of bits of information was officially ‘lit up’ two weeks ago, connecting the RDCK’s Lakeside Drive offices with the City of Nelson and the Nelson and District Community Complex (NDCC).
The Regional District shared in the costs of the fibre optic install and will now save operating costs by improving its internal communications to the NDCC while centralizing vital systems such as servers and telephones.
The City and the RDCK also connected their two main office buildings to help improve communications between the two organizations, saving even more money by eventually lowering costs through shared software, hardware, and implementing failover and redundancy.
Forward-thinking efforts on the IT front are continuing at both the City and RDCK.
The two organizations are installing fibre optic transmission equipment able to reach speeds of 1,000 Mbps (megabits per second, with a megabit measuring just over one million bits of information).
Most home and business connections are less than seven Mbps.
A single strand of fiber can transmit well over a billion Mbps.
City of Nelson Senior Systems Analyst Kalum Lauritzen explains that the next step — which will benefit businesses and institutions throughout the City and RDCK — is the creation of a co-location facility in City Hall, which is where all of the fibre strands converge.
“This could allow companies of all sizes to centralize equipment or to access services offered from other local businesses such as phone systems, servers and internet access over the municipally-owned network,” Lauritzen said, adding that the local fibre optic system could one day connect local schools, Selkirk College campuses and the communities of Rosemont, Uphill and Fairview.
The Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership (NAEDP) has identified fibre communications within Nelson as a high priority for increased economic development in the area.
Lauritzen explains that much of the progress on the fibre optic front has to do with the fact Nelson is fortunate enough to have its own electric utility — Nelson Hydro.
In addition to providing Nelson residents with some of the lowest electrical rates in North America, Nelson Hydro’s power poles have given the City a very cost effective means by which to run communication lines through town, without having to rent poles from a utility company based elsewhere, or spend budget on costly trenching, drilling and underground conduits.
Between 1998 and 2005 the City connected the Fire Hall, Nelson Police Department, Touchstones, Public Works and the Nelson Library to City Hall with fiber optics — centralizing phone systems, servers and internet access, and saving taxpayers close to $100,000 per year.