Communities in southwest Saskatchewan can expect faster internet speeds as SaskTel rolls out an upgrade in the area.
The fibre optic upgrade is part of a $100 million expansion that will help with internet speeds. The upgraded cabling will replace the old copper-based coaxial cable.
The fibre upgrade will be able to hold more information, increasing download and upload speeds. People will be able to game, stream or video conference on multiple devices all at the same time without slowing each other down.
Don Morgan, the Minister for SaskTel, is excited about the expansion to provide better service to rural areas in the southwest part of the province.
“Depending on the plan they buy right now, a lot of them will be on 50 megabits down and 10 up,” said Morgan. “This will get them into the hundreds, with 200, 300 and 400 download and 50 or 100 upload. So, it will be blazingly fast.”
While Swift Current already has incorporated fibre upgrades into its infrastructure, this phase of the plan will see both Shaunavon and Maple Creek getting the bandwidth boost. With work already underway in those communities, crews should be finishing up in the next year.
The next phase of the plan will see Herbert, Leader, and other surrounding communities get their turn at the upgrades in 2023 and 2024.
“Right now we have enough broadband that we expect that we're going to be able to cover 80% of the homes that are in the province,” said Morgan. “It will add up to in excess of 110,000 residents and businesses in more than 130 rural communities.”
A benefit of the upgrade will be more reliable cellular and wireless services in the event of emergencies. During times of duress in rural areas, a cellular signal can be paramount to survival as people try to contact emergency services. With this upgrade, 5G cellular towers and wireless services will be rolling out into the area, bringing with them the ability to more easily contact 911 in the event of an incident.
The cost of this upgrade comes from borrowing from the rates that are paid, so it's funded internally at SaskTel. This will be the second investment of $100 million by the Crown Corporation into this project, bringing the total so far to $200 million.