Telus representatives recently visited Trout Lake to explain to residents why wired internet service wasn’t an option for residents there.
TELUS general manager for the Southern Interior Steve Jenkins and Telus Ambassador Aurora Sekela was on hand at a community meeting to explain why Trout Lake homes would be receiving internet service provided by a local Internet service provider (ISP) using wireless broadband rather than individual connections from Telus.
Jenkins began by saying that it was his job to be transparent while answering the question “what does Internet in Trout Lake mean?”
The world wide web’s arrival in the town began back in 2010 with a ruling by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). To make up for not meeting service standards clients were paying for, Telus was ordered to deploy broadband Internet service to 159 rural communities in B.C., Alberta and Quebec.
As of Nov. 28, there is now a fibre optic cable connection into Trout Lake which feeds information in and out of the town’s ISP run by John Wall.
Telus rep Jenkins told the residents that Telus is not in a position to provide last-mile service, that local service is the responsibility of a local ISP. In the event that there is no ISP, Telus is required to provide service for one year, said Jenkins, but due to concerns that the corporation could force smaller ISPs out of business, Telus is not allowed to be the local provider.
This didn’t sit well with all audience members, and one person taking in the meeting via phone commented that Telus drops the service off, but if there’s a problem with the ISP, the clients have no recourse.
One of the issues raised by residents was a concern that the ISP might be monitoring information. The meeting erupted in opinions: security concerns, questions about proof whether there was cause for concern, accusations of a personal vendetta, that Telus wasn’t living up to the CRTC requirements.
Jenkins pulled the meeting back on track, noting that emotions were running high. He stated firmly “Telus will not be coming back to deliver retail service.” The cost of a single switching unit to run a line to a residence cost approximately $100,000 said Jenkins, and Telus would not be picking up the bill for that.
He also offered a brief technical explanation of how package switching, the backbone of Internet information worked, and that the ISP was not monitoring content, but volume.
John Wall, responsible for the Trout Lake ISP, told the Arrow Lakes News that the town’s wireless system was like any other, complete with the same security issues.
“We have anti-spyware, anti-virus, anti-phishing software,” he said, but like any system there are no guarantees.
What Wall could guarantee was that the ISP itself was not monitoring content.
“We’re sure not going to waste our time spying on people,” said Wall, who compared the ISP to standing on an overpass watching traffic go by. “We can see how many cars and how fast they’re going, but not where they’ve been and we don’t care.”
The biggest concerns for Wall as the provider are congestion and “collisions” when service gets interrupted, or if a tower goes down.
Wall understands that people in the community are frustrated they can’t get direct Telus connections.
“I can understand them being upset by it,” he said, and put their fears of being spied on down to a lack of knowledge about how the internet works. “I didn’t know anything about the internet, I worked in the oil patch,” said Wall about his life before getting involved with the Internet Society.