During the past year, KiN made its most significant step towards bringing the best Internet connectivity in the Province to the entire North Kootenay Lake region—and we also overcame some serious problems.
Fibre-optic cable was installed deep in Kootenay Lake, coming to the shoreline to serve Woodbury Resort, Woodbury Village, Shutty Bench, Schroeder Creek, Lost Ledge Campground, Lardeau, Argenta and Johnsons Landing. We purchased 72 kilometres of fibre-optic cable from suppliers in India on heavy spools that were mounted on a barge to do that job. All twelve of the long fibre runs were successful and they are now operational. Community members helped: Derek Baker provided the barge and a boat, Mike Steinmann provided a boat and assisted when diving was required, and Mark Dobroski captained a support boat. Also, Kaslo Search and Rescue helped install a lake landing in Ainsworth as a nighttime training exercise.
The underwater cable will allow connectivity so efficient that KiN’s entire system from Ainsworth to Johnsons Landing will be capable of Gigabit per second speeds. Schroeder Creek and Lardeau are already connected to fibre from Kaslo and we’re gearing up to install fibre everywhere else along the lake shore. Now that we’ve reached the head of the lake, we’re able to increase the bandwidth available to Cooper Creek and Meadow Creek in preparation for laying fibre there in the next few years.
During the summer, KiN provided a fibre connection to JazzFest and set up an experimental hotspot that enabled hundreds of people to access the Web from their devices while at the festival. We continued running fibre to new connections in Mirror Lake and Woodbury Village, and worked alongside the Village of Kaslo sewer project to provide fibre connections to the Langham, the Village Hall and Library. KiN is now positioned to provide fibre connections to the remainder of lower Kaslo while avoiding conflict with future sewer expansion. During the summer repaving, we installed a conduit under the highway to run fibre to the Kaslo South subdivision in the future.
There also were some bumps in the road. Lack of snow and a sudden cold snap at our Kaslo Mountain relay tower caused the micro-hydro backup to freeze, so we had to replace batteries by helicopter to maintain our service. The long power outage at New Year’s caused some of our battery backups to run down. We are now increasing our battery capacity and planning for local recharging before the coming winter. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is restricting some of our work, but we are continuing outside construction, while responding to the need by increasing Internet speeds as much as we can.
To keep our construction and operation going, our volunteer Board members managed grant applications and reporting, initiated an overhaul of our accounting system (necessitated by our growth), and handled a stream of environmental, archaeological and bureaucratic applications and reports for the lake fibre project. Other Board members managed KiN’s website, kept an eye on finances and dealt with human resources and policy issues. I want to acknowledge the hard work performed by Josee Bayeur, Mike Campbell, Graham Gilbert, Tim Ryan, and Maggie Winters, all of whom gave so much of their time and energy to make KiN what it is today.
KiN has become a significant employer that keeps and circulates in our rural community a large flow of cash that used to disappear into the cities. We strive to keep Internet revenues (and now telephone revenues as well) in local hands while providing employment. And we will keep expanding fibre connectivity until everyone in the north Kootenay Lake valley can benefit from it.
Don Scarlett, Board Chair
KiN construction crew: Tyler Hamilton, Stewart Coonce, Clint Harvey and Catalina Hartland on the barge during installation of lake fibre, September, 2019. Spools each contained 12 km of fibre that must be paid out at a rate carefully matched to the speed of the barge, measured by GPS.