By: Greg Amos, Editor
With Telus’ fibre optic Internet service set to be ready for customers by late spring or early summer, Tumbler Ridge’s existing internet service provider is asking customers to think twice before switching over.
An exodus of high-bandwidth users from PRIS to Telus will dramatically improve speeds for regular Internet users in the district, argues PRIS system administrator Arvo Koppel in letters recently sent to all PRIS customers in the district.
That means Telus’ assymetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) service won’t be as advantageous as many believe, he said.
“PRIS will be encouraging heavy Internet users (those who insist upon using their Internet connection as a movie entertainment medium: eg. Netflix, Torrents, etc.) to migrate to the Telus ADSL service,” wrote Koppel. “We expect the remaining members of PRIS will see significant increases in speed for more ‘traditional’ uses of the net with time, and these speeds will become comparable to ADSL.”
Starting now, PRIS is also offering low usage customers a price of $20 per month, as long as they don’t exceed 2 gigabytes of usage, he said.
Koppel notes PRIS wireless service is “symmetrical”, meaning upload and download speeds are the same, whereas ADSL offer far greater speeds for downloads than for uploads. He also said the static IP address used by a PRIS wireless connection is essential to use services such as a virtual private network (VPN, used for working remotely on another computer).
Anyone hosting data on a website that uses file transfer protocol (FTP) software would also need a static IP address – though that’s generally not a concern, as most websites are hosted externally rather than on home computers.
Telus is sticking to its prediction of having the service in place by late spring or early summer. Directional drilling to get the Telus fibre across creeks along the Highway 52 route has been completed in all cases, Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall told the Ridge Sentinel late last month.
The fibre is in to the Telus switching station, and racks of equipment, including network cards spanning three feet across, continue to be installed there, said Hall.
Any cable work now being seen along Highway 52 is not related to Telus’ fibre optic project for Tumbler Ridge, he added.
PRIS first offered Internet Service in Tumbler Ridge in 1995, upgraded in 2001 to a T1 line, and set up a wireless link to Tumbler Ridge in 2009. The current system provides about 60 megabits per second (Mbps) within the district, which results in the average customer in Tumbler Ridge seeing speeds of 1 Mbps – though Koppel cautions that is highly dependent upon which of nine individual access points a customer is connected to.
More capacity could be available for existing PRIS users in Tumbler Ridge once upgrades occur in Dawson Creek in mid June, Koppel added.
In both Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, Telus has a bandwidth ceiling of about 6 Mbps, though many lines are only capable of handling half that bandwidth, said Koppel.
That’s far below the speeds of 25 Mbps that Telus is able to offer in the Lower Mainland. Upgrades scheduled for early 2013 should allow upgrades to low speed lines in those cities, making 6 Mbps attainable for more users.
Due to its compact layout and newer infrastructure, Telus should be able to offer Tumbler Ridge 6 Mbps connections without difficulty, Koppel believes.
In the long term, Telus’ fibre optic line to Tumbler Ridge could benefit cellphone users as well.
The high speed 4G long term evolution (LTE) network, which Telus recently announced it would bring to 90 per cent of B.C. in the near future, depends on a fibre optic backbone.
The LTE network came to Vancouver in February, and will be deployed in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek within the year. There is no timeline yet as to when it would come to Tumbler Ridge.