Western James Bay Telecom Network (WJBTN) will soon bring fibre to the home service to 957 homes in the communities of Attawapiskat, Kashechewan and Fort Albany. WJBTN will also increase transport and fibre internet capacity to community hospitals, schools and residents in these communities.
To make these improvements possible, WJBTN has secured funding of $2.296 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and $441,193 from the Government of Canada through the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, with WJBTN providing the balance of funds needed through cash reserves, the Royal Bank of Canada and Nord-Aski Regional Economic Development Corporation and Wakenagun Economic Development Corporation.
The cost of the project is estimated at $4.7 million. Each home will have the capacity for 30 meg service at an affordable cost to the end-user.
WJBTN is a 100% First Nations owned and operated, not- for- profit corporation that provides fibre-optic transport and fibre bandwidth to anchor institutions in the First Nation communities of Attawapiskat, Kashechewan and Fort Albany, Ontario.
"Since building this Network ten years ago, we have dramatically improved social, business and educational opportunities, as well as quality-of-life for our community [citizens]. Now we will be able to move to the next phase-transitioning the wireless residential internet service to Fibre to the home and upgrading our transport equipment," said Rebecca Friday, Mushkeqowuk Council Deputy Grand Chief and WJBTN Chair.
Jonathon Solomon, Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief said, "We are enormously proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the region as a result of the Western James Bay Telecommunications Network and the hard work of many of our community [citizens]. The positive change over the last decade has been significant. We look forward to taking these next critical steps to better connect our communities to the world."
Key Benefits of Fibre to the Home over existing services include:
• improved connectivity performance for customers; outcome will be a lower cost, more affordable, more reliable service for the end user
• lower maintenance and operational costs for WJBTN
• increased economic opportunities for individuals and local enterprises
• universal access to banking services, government resources; social media
• improved health, wellness and education opportunities by using online services
• potential for WJBTN to develop higher skilled workforce in James Bay communities, to meet needs for network maintenance and residential customer service
• positive contribution to the overall economy of this part of Ontario
Planned Project Timeline:
• Work on the transport upgrade has already begun; completion on this phase is expected by March 1, 2019.
• Implementation of new messenger strand, repairs and deployment of drop fibres are expected to be completed by November 2019, with the splicing phase requirements to follow in May to November 2020
• Plans are for the new system to be in service in all three communities by December 2020.
Ten years ago the Mushkegowuk First Nations along the James Bay Coast made an important leap into the digital age by bringing fibre optic internet service to the communities of Attawapiskat, Kashechewan and Fort Albany. In creating the Western James Bay Telecom Network (WJBTN), Mushkegowuk Council was able to ensure that these communities were able to bring internet connectivity to the schools, offices and medical centres along the James Bay coast.
Although the anchor institutions in these communities have been on fibre optic internet since 2010, the internet to residents has been delivered by wireless canopies. This technology did not always work well in communities due to weather and where homes are situated so very close to one another. The wireless service is expensive and many residents do not have a residential phone line. More and more, they must rely on internet to conduct routine personal or business activities, essentially for basic communication with the outside world. WJBTN's new upgrades and service improvements will address many of these central issues.