Telco speeds up network upgrade

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Manitoba Telecom Services plans to spend $125 million over the next five years to expand its fibre-optic-cable network to about 120,000 more homes in nearly 20 Manitoba communities.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/08/2010 (4386 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba Telecom Services plans to spend $125 million over the next five years to expand its fibre-optic-cable network to about 120,000 more homes in nearly 20 Manitoba communities.

MTS’s fibre-to-the-home network, which it calls FiON, enables customers to access the most advanced high-speed Internet and television services — services that aren’t available over its traditional copper-wire network.

For competitive reasons, MTS president and CEO Pierre Blouin would only reveal the names of three of approximately 20 communities on the fibre to-do list — Thompson, The Pas and Steinbach.

And MTS isn’t saying exactly when those three will be getting the service, only that installation will begin sometime in 2011.

Blouin told industry analysts Friday that MTS was the first in Manitoba to launch a fibre-to-the-home network when it began installing FiON in Winnipeg’s new Waverley West subdivision last January.

It followed that up a few months later by announcing that it would be installing the network this year in the City of Selkirk and an adjacent portion of St. Andrews and St. Clements.

Work crews have already begun installing the fibre-optic lines in the Interlake community, and MTS expects to have the network fully deployed there by the end of this year.

Blouin and MTS president Kelvin Shepherd said MTS is accelerating the expansion of its fibre network to the other communities because of increased competition from firms like Calgary-based Shaw Communications.

They said that when combined with the existing high-speed VDSL networks that are available in Winnipeg, Brandon and Portage, this expanded fibre deployment will make advanced broadband and television services available to about 65 per cent of the homes in Manitoba by the end of 2015. They said that would be the highest market penetration of any telco in Canada.

Iain Grant, a Montreal-based telecommunications analyst, said the big winners in all of this are the residents who will be gaining access to a greater variety of broadband and TV services.

Blouin said MTS had originally planned to install its new fibre-to-the-home network only in new residential developments and communities where the existing copper-wire network needed to be replaced.

But under that timetable, it would have been up to 15 years before some of the communities on the new to-do list received the advanced service, he added.

He said FiON has the potential to handle broadband speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, which is four times faster than what’s now offered.

“That’s really equipping these towns and cities for the future,” he added.

He said the company also intends to extend its fibre-to-the-home network to all of the Winnipeg, Brandon and Portage la Prairie homes connected to its VDSL networks.

Blouin said those upgrades will likely occur in the final two years of the five-year period.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Fibre-optic facts

What is a fibre-optic cable? A cable composed of fibres instead of traditional copper wires.

How does it work? Light pulses are used to carry messages along an optical fibre. A fibre is capable of carrying up to 10 million messages at any time.

What are some of the advantages over copper wire?

— Signals can he transmitted over longer distances and at higher bandwidths.

— There’s less signal loss and optical fibres are immune to electromagnetic interference.

— More fibres can be bundled together in a cable, which allows for more phone lines or TV channels to pass through the cable.

— Source: Wikipedia

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