An in-depth look at how the city’s $5.5-million fibre optic broadband network will transform New Westminster is scheduled for March 31 at the Anvil Centre.
The public is encouraged to attend the free forum, which will feature keynote speaker Dr. Norman Jacknis from the New York-based Intelligent Community Forum.
“He’s somebody who has seen and experienced these developments all over the world,” said Coun. Bill Harper. “I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for New West to understand what we’ve been up to in real detail. It’s a bit like the Ted Talks of New Westminster, in the sense that it’s a new era that’s emerging in the city and we want as many people to know about it as possible.”
The city’s fibre optic business plan, reviewed by council in February, focuses on laying down fibre in the downtown and uptown cores first, specifically the Columbia-Brunette corridor, said Harper.
“This is a testing ground of sorts. We hope to have it up and running in 18 months,” he said. “The idea is to create one column, put it into service. Off of that, you will gain revenue, so as you’re expanding, it helps you finance the process in which you’re moving forward.”
By providing the open access infrastructure, telecommunications companies (Telcos) and Internet service providers (ISPs) will be able to offer a fibre optic network to businesses and residents.
“Ultimately, what we’re going to see is the transformation of the economy of the city. We’ve lost all of our heavy industries, and what we’re going to see is the new knowledge-based innovative industries start to migrate into the city to use the fibre,” Harper added.
He anticipates Royal Columbian Hospital, Douglas College, the Justice Institute of B.C. and the New Westminster School District to be among the first users of the service, considering all are involved with the Intelligent City task force.
The network itself is expected to result in a net return of $16.8 million over a 30-year period, according to a city staff report. The revenue will be generated by leasing the fibre strands to the Telcos and ISPs.
The Intelligent Community Forum is a non-profit organization that focuses on job creation and economic development in the broadband economy.
Mayor Jonathan Cote will also be presenting during the March 31st event. The forum runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Those interested in attending must RSVP, as seating is limited. To do so, visit www.newwestcity.ca/intelligentnw.