The provincial government has announced that over 120 households in the First Nations community of Coldwater 1 near Merritt will now have access to high-speed internet services with the installation of new infrastructure.

“Building a stronger, more sustainable economy begins with empowering rural, remote and Indigenous communities with better access to the digital world,” said Lisa Beare, the province’s minister of citizens’ services. 

“With the completion of this project, people of Coldwater 1 now have access to high-speed internet services, opening up a wide range of opportunities. We are committed to connecting every rural, remote and Indigenous community by 2027 to ensure the benefits of high-speed internet access are shared by everyone in B.C.”

The new infrastructure in the Coldwater community has enabled access to high-speed broadband internet speeds of more than 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads. In comparison, one high-definition stream from Netflix requires a 5 Mbps download speed. 

“I am happy that Telus was able to bring high-speed internet to Coldwater,” said Kristopher Oppenheim, the Coldwater Indian Band’s lands, wills and estates administrator.

“It feels like we are catching up with the world around us. Our members can now have stable internet services. We are no longer in the stone age.”

The province said that it invested approximately $185,000, along with a $173,000 investment by Telus, toward the total project cost of approximately $358,000.

“Access to high-speed internet has become increasingly critical for people in rural and remote communities, including many Indigenous communities,” said Roly Russell, parliamentary secretary for rural development. 

“It provides economic opportunities and better access to services that improve quality of life through improvements to the social determinants of health, and so much more. The completion of this project will provide more residents with the connectivity they need to access the digital economy, start on new education pathways, open new connections to mental and physical health services, and improve connection to those who matter most to them.”

In March 2022, the province partnered with the federal government to provide as much as $830 million to expand high-speed internet services to connect all remaining rural and First Nations households in the province. Upper Nicola Band’s Quilchena reserve recently received similar upgrades. 

The province said in its release that its commitment to connect every household in B.C. to high-speed internet services by 2027 will level the playing field for British Columbians and ensure every community has better access to jobs, education, training and healthcare.