I recently moved my web development company‘s office to downtown New Westminster (at Columbia Street and 4th Avenue). I was very surprised to discover that Telus’s maximum download speed for my building was 6Mbps (which is not feasible for a web development company!), and that Shaw did not service the building at all. By contrast, 15Mbps is effectively the minimum speed at home. As it turns out there are a few blocks in downtown New Westminster where the internet speeds are awful.
After multiple calls to both Telus and Shaw, I was resigned to the fact that they weren’t going to add or improve service any time soon. There is old copper wiring more than 10 kilometres to the nearest substation and neither company said they had plans to install new wiring. The only thing I was offered was something called “managed internet” where you pay Telus to build the fibre for you (tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars) — not even close to a realistic option!
Some of the other service providers such as Teksavvy weren’t able to offer anything better, since they simply lease capacity from the “big 2″ of Telus and Shaw.
After reaching out to the City of New Westminster and talking to some businesses in the area, I found that the bad internet speeds are well known in my area, although the speeds are much better a few blocks further west. I also found out about the Intelligent City initiative; a major component of this initiative is to build a fibre optic network through the city. The City of New Westminster does not intend on being an internet service provider, but they would build and own the network, leasing out the capacity to other service providers. This is an exciting development whose general plan has been approved, but will realistically take at least a couple of years before it is ready for commercial use.
Other options included:
* Wireless cell phone plans, where LTE networks now offer great speeds. However, the bandwidth offered with the Telus, Bell, and Rogers plans (as well as some of the smaller companies) topped out at 20GB per month, at which point the costs per GB skyrocket.
* Satellite internet from a company such as TeraGo, although it would cost at least $350 per month for a 5Mbps connection, and a 15Mbps connection would cost $950 per month.
* A “bonded” connection through Lightspeed Internet — this involves combining multiple connections into a single connection. They lease capacity through Telus’s lines, but Telus does not offer this bonded connection. The cost for my building for 3 bonded lines for an effective speed of 15Mbps is $340 per month.
* As suggested by my building neighbours Techno Monkey Media, get a company or building down the street (where they have decent internet speeds) to agree to let me get a normal Telus, Shaw, or other wired connection in their building, then send the signal to my building via rooftop satellites. This has some modest up-front costs, and the ongoing costs are no more than a standard connection.
I ended up moving forwarded with the bonded connection. However, the cost is not something I want to be paying in the long-term. While I wait for fibre internet to come to New Westminster, I hope to set up the “beam an internet connection via rooftop satellites” connection. In any case, this is a problem I would have never expected for downtown New Westminster!