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Fibre optic project gets underway

LAC LA BICHE - The small, orange and yellow flags are waving alongside the front sidewalks of many Lac La Biche and Plamondon homes this week, leading the way for the install of fibre-optic cable across most urban areas of the municipality.

The project to bring the service to homes and cellular towers across the community is a partnership with Lac La Biche County and Telus.  The municipality will put $6 million over the span of the next three years into the project to bring the communication company's high-speed connectivity to the community. While the payments will last to 2022, the connectivity project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Urban and rural

Company officials say 98 per cent of the urban homes and businesses in the municipality will be served by the fibre-optic cable connection by the end of 2021. For residents in what is being called a "surrounding rural area," the install will see fibre cable going to existing cell sites to increase cellular capacity. 

Flags mean one-week to work

For areas of the community now with the flags in the ground, marking existing cable lines and utility right-of-ways, 'mainline construction' is expected to begin within a week. According to the project timeline, the construction phase will take between three and four months for buried cable connections and two to three months for aerial installation.

Corporate information says the PureFibre network is built on existing infrastructure, like buried conduit and wooden utility poles. The project includes  70 per cent underground work and 30 percent aerial.

According to LIz Sauve, the manager of public relations for the communications company, the Lac La Biche County hook-up will add to the two million Albertans currently linked to the PureFibre network.

When asked about a map or time schedule for the local connection, Sauve gave an good-news update on the work so far.

"Work on the PureFibre network in Lac La Biche is progressing on schedule, and we anticipate all homes and businesses will be connected by the end of the year," she told the POST.

This week, the contracted construction crews are working in several areas around the community, said Sauve.

"Our team is currently working in the industrial area southwest of Lac La Biche, the neighbourhood surrounding the airport, and the urban residential neighbourhood to the west of Beaver Road," she explained last Friday. "Residents in those areas will soon be able to take advantage of the Internet speeds that PureFibre enables."

Further details of the a more specific connectivity schedule and locations is expected to be announced this week.

Connectivity to rural areas has been a goal of federal, provincial and municipal leaders for the last several years. The $6 million payment is split into the 2020, 2021 and 2022 municipal budget years.