Sturgeon County Broadband Strategy | Sturgeon County
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Sturgeon County Broadband Strategy

Broadband

On December 8, 2020, Sturgeon County Council approved a new broadband strategy to improve internet access throughout the County. The project will address issues identified during the 2020 needs assessment. In that assessment, 97.7% of residents and businesses said that internet access was either very important or that they couldn’t live without it. The same study showed that most Sturgeon County residents and business are currently dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the reliability, speed, and value of their current internet service. 

For more information, review the Resident Survey Results and Business Survey Results

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for reliable broadband connectivity has been highlighted as residents require reliable broadband access in order to work, learn, access health care services, conduct business, and communicate with friends and family while respecting physical distancing directives.

Sturgeon County’s Broadband Strategy will be implemented in phases, starting with a pilot project in the Villeneuve area.

Villeneuve Pilot Project

The strategy will start with a pilot project in the Villeneuve area, which was selected for the following reasons:

  • An analysis of speed test data and population density demonstrate that an investment in this area would provide significantly increase service to a large number of residents.
     
  • As the Villeneuve Airport and Pro North Industrial Park are important economic drivers for Sturgeon County, broadband investment in this area will support the County’s economic development priorities.
     
  • The proximity of the proposed pilot area to potential partners, including Alexander First Nation.
     
  • Servicing institutions such as public facilities and community halls make a direct community impact as well as improves the ability to capitalize on future grant funding.

Project Funding

As part of Budget 2021, Council dedicated up to $7.3 million in long-term debt for improving broadband connectivity in Sturgeon County.  Although this funding has been approved, Sturgeon County is also looking to secure a private partner and explore potential grant funding to reduce the County’s financial contribution. 

Sturgeon County will be pursuing other grant and partnership opportunities to offset costs of the proposed pilot project.

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Broadband Speed Test

The CIRA Internet Performance Test is a quick and easy test of your Internet connection speed. Taking the test helps us understand the service level that residents and businesses are receiving across Sturgeon County. Completing a speed test may assist Sturgeon County in accessing grants to improve internet access throughout the County.

The speed test is administered by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). As each user performs a test, their data is anonymously collected and aggregated into a large dataset that spans Canada. Researchers will be able to understand the capabilities of Canada’s Internet infrastructure. Sturgeon residents will be able to compare their connection speeds with other people in their area, province, or across the country. 

Take a speed test

Broadband Project TimelineBroadband Project Timeline

Complete

Step: 1
Needs Assessment

Complete

Step: 2
Strategy Development

Complete

Step: 3
Market Sounding

In-Progress

Step: 4
Partner Selection

Not-Started

Step: 5
Pre-construction and Consultation

Not-Started

Step: 6
Construction

Not-Started

Step: 7
Service Activation

Not-Started

Step: 8
County-wide Rollout

 

The County wanted to make sure it had a good understanding of the issues and challenges that residents and businesses face and what steps the community wants the County to take to resolve them. It needed the help of the community to do this, so the County:

Asked County business owners and residents to complete a survey advising on their current access to internet, its uses, and satisfaction with current levels of service.

Collected internet speed test data with the help of the community. This provided hard data on the current state of broadband services.

Although the Needs Assessment is complete, residents and businesses can still help by doing a speed test at http://performance.cira.ca/sturgeon

 

Status: Complete 


With a clear understanding of the issues and a strong expectation from the community that the municipality work to solve the issues businesses and residents face, the County developed a plan to move forward. This included:

  • Investigating and advocating for assistance from other levels of government
  • Developing a fibre-based strategy to address the issues that businesses and residents identified
  • Identifying an approach that will resolve the issue quickly and set the community up for success for many years to come
  • Identifying an initial rollout area that would develop the framework for expansion across the entire County
  • Obtaining Council approval on the strategy and to move the project forward as quickly as possible

Status: Complete 


The County approach is intended to leverage the expertise of the private sector, addressing a range of topics to ensure that the service is reliable, affordable, and scalable, and ensure competition and innovation while protecting the County’s investment. This approach needed to be vetted by the private sector to ensure it would be successful and deliver the results that the community is looking for. This step involved:

  • Meeting with existing Internet service providers and ensuring that this approach would allow them to continue to provide equal or better service to businesses and residents
  • Getting feedback from potential partners on the viability of the County’s approach and suggestions for improvement

Status: Complete 


One major milestone in the County approach is the selection of a private sector partner. This partner will be responsible for the design, build, management, and day-to-day operations of a fibre-based network to service much of the County. The partner is also expected to contribute financially, allowing the project to deliver services faster and sharing risk. This step involves:

  • Defining the needed services and service levels
  • Getting bids from potential industry partners and selecting the best partner for the County
  • Negotiating a comprehensive agreement for moving the project forward

Status: In-Progress (expected completion September 2021)


With a partner in place, we can start planning out the network. This includes:

  • Network design
  • Landowner, resident, and business consultations
  • Procurement of materials and sub-contracting of services
  • Permits and establishing rights-of-way

Status: Not-Started (September 2021 through May 2022)


With all the planning activities complete, this phase will include the actual construction of the network, which includes:

  • Fibre conduit burial along selected the rights-of-way and up to homes and businesses in the initial phase
  • Connection and “lighting up” of the fibre

Status: Not-Started (May through August 2022)


The fibre will be activated when it is installed and made ready for use. As with the construction, final installation and activation will be rolled out across the initial phase as it becomes available:

  • Internet service providers will begin marketing this new service to residents and businesses within the initial phase
  • Residents and businesses in the initial phase will be able to sign up for internet through their selected Internet ServiceProvider

Status: Not-Started (June through September 2022)


Incorporating lessons learned during the first phase, the project will install and activate fibre throughout the rest of the County. This will involve a continual series of pre-construction, construction, and service activation steps as fibre deployment rolls out area by area.

Status: Not-Started (September 2022 through September 2024)


Support for County Involvement and Investment

As part of the needs assessment, Sturgeon County residents and businesses were asked about the level of involvement the municipality should take in ensuring that Sturgeon County’s future internet speed requirements can be met at a reasonable cost.

  • 53% of respondents supported the County partnering with the private sector and investing as required.
  • 33% of respondents indicated the County should support the private sector including consideration of a financial investment.
  • 11% indicated the County should support the private sector without financial investment.
  • Only 3% indicated the County should not be involved at all.