SUNDRIDGE — One cost high speed internet could be available in Sundridge later this month.
“We expect to get double or triple the speeds people are getting now,” said Mike Reise, “and because we’re using fibre optics there will be no data charges. Just one monthly billing cost.”
Reise and his partner Darcy Wallingford of Northern Lights Telecommunications Services started building a tower on land rented from Bray Motors last October.
“We were fortunate enough to get access to the fibre line that runs through Sundridge to go direct to our tower so we can throw out a great feed,” Reise said. “From the base of the tower out we should be able to reach about 15 to 20 miles, point of site.”
Because Northern Lights was able to link the fibre optics right to the tower “we will have a stronger signal. We’re able to get a lot better feed. So instead of getting feeds of one or two megs down, which is what it is for a lot of people, they’re going to be able to get 10 down, so they can use their Netflix and such,” said Reise.
The new service will cover Eagle Lake, around Bernard Lake, south and slightly west, as well as the heart of the Sundridge residential area.
Northern Lights customers will have an antenna on the side of their home which will receive a beam directly from the new tower.
“It’s no different than any other company,” said Reise, “except for the speed you’re going to get, and the flat rate starts off at $89 for one residential unit.”
Neither Reise nor his partner Wallingford are Sundridge residents but chose the village “because we knew there was a need there. Darcy is a network engineer and has a number of commercial clients so we knew firsthand there was a void in the residential market that people wanted filled. Our plan is to do multiple towers, but Sundridge is the first, it’s the model.”
The company has already been contacted by a number of people living in southern Ontario who own seasonal property in the area.
“They’re coming from places that already have great feeds to a place on Bernard Lake where they have next to nothing in internet service,” said Reise. “This will be an important infrastructure option for them.”
Reise would not comment on how much money the company has invested in the Sundridge high speed model, but said “we’re not mortgaging our houses. We were able to work out a good deal for the property and we’re not putting up a $100,000 tower, so we’re able to get in and do it in a fiscally responsible way.”
Northern Lights hopes to be able to work a similar deal in other areas where fibre optics are present but not being directly accessed.
“Fibre optics runs right down Highway 11, the problem is that when you start to expand out it gets cost restrictive for big companies to service small communities. It’s called ‘breaking it out’ and its expensive. That’s why it hasn’t been offered residential. We’re able to do it because we’re doing it wireless and over a smaller geographic area,” said Reise.
“It’s not something we’re going to become millionaires at but the key thing is we can provide something that is needed and we don’t need 10,000 people on the system to make it work.”
The location of a second tower has not yet been determined, although Reise said “we have had property offered to us around the area, as far north as Powassan. And we’d like to look at South River, because we know there’s a need there as well and unfortunately, given the terrain around Sundridge, we won’t be able to service South River from this tower.”
The company has no intention of expanding into bigger markets.
“We need to be able to do this cost effectively so that we can pass those good rates on to our customers, and if the fibre optics are available I’m pretty sure we can make a deal,” said Reise.
“We took a leap of faith in Sundridge because all the stars aligned and we were able to do it without any government funding.”