Solving Municipal Broadband – City of Brooks (Part 1)

The City of Brooks, located in southeast Alberta, is on track to become one of Canada’s leading broadband-enabled communities.

The city’s broadband journey began several years ago after a local Regional Economic Development Alliance (REDA) undertook a regional broadband viability project.

One of the project’s key outcomes was discovering a line of ‘dark fibre’ – unused fibre-optic cables that were installed underground in anticipation of future needs – looped from Calgary to Medicine Hat, via Lethbridge. For municipalities located along this loop, this infrastructure represents a significant opportunity to bring it into service to provide reliable, high-speed internet to their residents and businesses.

In partnership with the REDA, several municipalities collaborated and secured funding from the Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program to investigate this opportunity further. This work determined it would be more affordable for the City of Brooks to independently hire an incumbent, so they opted out of the consortium.

Brooks worked with two incumbents to fast-track the introduction of broadband services into their community. One was slow to respond, and the other said a $40-million contribution from the city would put them near the top of their priority list.

Faced with this challenging situation, the City determined it would be too costly or take too long for a major telecommunications company to bring broadband to their community – so City officials decided to take matters into their own hands.

Next week’s article will detail the City of Brooks’ business model and explain how they engaged the market. For more information, please contact danb [at] abmunis.ca (Dan Blackburn), Senior Director of Growth & Innovation.