Tech Talk

Ian Roberts

This week, as promised, we will discuss a topic that I am sure is of great interest to each and every one of us here in Tumbler Ridge: Fibre optic. It is old news that Telus ran fibre to the town and that it is here. The question today is: what next? What can we expect from having this technology? Internet? TV? Will Tumbler Ridge be the first township in the north to have all the perks of fibre?

Let us go on a brief tangent and learn a little bit about fibre and how it works. Fibre is made from strands of plastic or glass and bundled together to make cables. A transmitter at one end converts data into light pulses which are sent down these cables. A receiver at the other end converts these pulses back into data which is sent to your TV or computer or other data devices.

Fibre optic cabling is also reasonably fragile; breaks in the line can occur much more easily. Over longer distances, regenerators need to be installed to boost the light pulses; this adds to the expense of installation and maintenance.

As a rule, Telus and the other networks will install fibre optic in “rings”. This means that they run multiple strings of fibre to or through a community. There are a number of reasons for this. Imagine if everyone in Tumbler Ridge was getting their TV through a single fibre “pipeline” and that line was broken. This would leave the entire community without service, which would result in a great many VERY unhappy customers!!! Multiple rings allow data to be routed through another line if there is a break. Multiple rings also optimize your service; there are times during the day when data usage is much higher, the network needs to be able to handle the volume.

Which brings us to the point of this whole article: will Tumbler Ridge get all the perks of fibre? The answer in short, is not today, for the very reasons that we have already discussed. There is only a single fibre “pipeline” to the community and a break would shut down service to the whole community.

There are several rays of hope, however and I like to finish my writings on a positive note. With the addition of a Telus dealership to Tumbler Ridge, there is a HUGE push on to bring these additional services to the community. ADSL is available to the community, that is definitely a positive. So bear with us all!! The North is growing and the services will continue to grow with it. The challenges of living up here are part of being in the north. I tell you, these challenges definitely keep life from ever being boring or monotonous.

Ian Kralt is the Regional Cellular Manager for Petron Communications.