The provincial government has announced the commencement of construction for a “fibre-to-the-home” project which will bring high-speed fibre internet from Telus to a number of rural Indigenous communities, including in nearby Quilchena. 

Residents of Upper Nicola Band’s (UNB) Quilchena reserve, called Nicola Lake IR1 by the province, will soon have high-speed internet access thanks to the Connecting British Columbia funding program, which is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust. The announcement is just one phase of the program, which looks to connect every household in B.C. to high-speed internet by 2027. UNB says the funding will support new and existing projects.

“Upper Nicola Band appreciates the opportunity to have Telus PureFibre in our community,” said Collette Sunday, band administrator for the Upper Nicola Band. 

“That will allow for our members to have high-quality access to the World Wide Web for their personal needs, as well this will assist us to have quality service for our community centre that we are currently planning. Finally, the Telus Pure Fibre will service economic development projects that are currently under development in our community.”

Along with Quilchena, Sqwá (Skwah) First Nation’s Skwah 4 and Skwali 3; Cook’s Ferry Indian Band’s Entlqwekkinh19 and Kloklowuck 7; and Squamish Nation’s Cheakamus 11 will also benefit from the new technology infrastructure by Telus. In addition to the province’s $2.9 million investment, Telus pitched in $1.3 million towards the high-speed internet projects. 

Construction on these projects is set to commence sometime in the spring, with completion slated for August 2023. The infrastructure will enable broadband internet speeds surpassing 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads, and 10 Mbps for uploads. The province says even access to high-speed internet across the province will “level the playing field” and ensure communities have better access to jobs, education, training and health care.

“We are focused on working closely with communities to fund projects that meet their connectivity needs and we are committed to connecting every rural, remote and Indigenous community in B.C. by 2027,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. 

“This project is another step toward meeting that commitment and meeting Action 4.36 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan to ensure that every First Nations community in B.C. has access to high-speed internet services.”

The province announced in March 2022 that an agreement with the federal government had been reached to provide as much as $830 million in funding to expand high-speed internet services for all rural and First Nations households in the province that currently lack the services due to a lack of infrastructure.