Summerland has high-tech secret

Summerland already has access to the high-speed pipeline that was announced for Penticton.

Telus is spending $26 million to bring very high-speed fibre Internet access to Penticton

An announcement that Penticton, Naramata and West Bench will be getting access to ultra high-speed internet was big news last month, but it turns out Summerland already has a connection to the high-speed pipeline.

(Related story: Eyes on developing Okanagan as Silicon Valley of the North)

Telus announced it was bringing its PureFibre Service to Penticton and its symmetrical 150 Mbps Internet plan, with matching 150 megabit per second upload and download speeds. Jeremy Denegar, Summerland’s director of corporate services, said he became curious, knowing that Telus had installed a fibre network there in 2015.

“I checked out a bunch of addresses all over Summerland and sure enough, we can get it (Internet 150/150 service),” said Denegar. “I did both positive and negative tests to make sure it is for real.”

Negative tests were remote addresses at the far end of Garnet Valley, where he didn’t expect the service would extend. But others were positive.

“I tested a whole bunch of addresses downtown, Prairie Valley, Trout Creek. Every one of those addresses checked out, yes you can have it,” said Denegar.

In Penticton, Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the availability of the ultra high-speed would even the playing field when it came to attracting technology businesses to the area, calling it a missing link for Penticton’s infrastructure.

Denegar said it is no different for Summerland.

“I know that council has wanted to promote all sorts of industry here, including the high tech sector, that was one of the things we talked about in strategy sessions,” said Denegar. “And here we have this 150, it creates the bandwidth businesses can use. It makes the city more attractive to those high tech sectors.”

Christine Petkau, executive director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, agreed that access to the high-speed connection was important.

“There is nothing nowadays, of a work nature, that is completed without the use of technology. The internet, particularly, drives our business world,” said Petkau adding that went for existing businesses and ones they might be thinking of locating in Summerland.

“The more complete  and robust that system is, the more benefit it is going to be. For businesses that thrive and grow, specifically through our online world, it is critical they have access to the very highest quality of internet available,” said Petkau.

They don’t show up on the chamber’s membership rolls, but Petkau said that like Penticton, Summerland already has a number of virtual workers, and access to the 150/150 service would make Summerland more attractive still.

“I have friends and acquaintances who do work in that fashion for companies in Vancouver and all through Canada and the US,” she said. “The first eight years I lived in Summerland I was a virtual worker. I know the benefits of being a virtual worker and why somebody would want to live here to do that.”

Access to mainline speeds isn’t just important for Summerland. Both Petkau and Denegar said this kind of access is important for communities up and down the valley, to make the whole region more attractive to the high-tech sector.