A 12-year-old tech company has plugged into Coquitlam's fibre optic network to give residents living in highrises what it says is the fastest internet connection in the country.
Last month, Urbanfibre launched its residential service to directly hook up its communications system with wires owned by QNet, the city-run corporation that has 60 km of cables underground.
Product vice-president John Paul Janze said his firm is now bringing on board the Obelisk (1179 Heffley Cres.) and soon the Levo 1 (2980 Atlantic Ave.).
By the end of the year, it hopes to add three more City Centre buildings: Altamonte (2979 Glen Dr.), Edgemont (2982 Burlington St.) and Claremont (1185 The High St.).
In turn, homeowners who sign on with Urbanfibre will receive 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) or one gigabit compared with the regular 120 Mbps bandwidth — at about half the cost: $69 per month, with no locked-in contract and a terabyte of data transfer. He said the ultra high-speed service means no lag time for online gaming, quick downloading for HD video and live streaming for TV and movies from any computer or mobile device.
Janze said the company is able to offer a lower price because it can piggyback its cable network onto QNet's data centre at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex rather than having to go through a larger network (such as Telus or Shaw) to link with the internet.
Currently, the publicly traded company has 200 km of fibre optics between Surrey and the UBC as well as in Victoria. And it has some pretty big business names on its inventory — among them, BC Ambulance and EComm.
Since it branched out to the residential sector eight months ago, Urbanfibre has enrolled 2,400 households across Metro Vancouver to leverage its fibre backbone, which gives the company an edge in the competitive market, said Scott Jamieson, QNet's director of operations.
Janze said Coquitlam "had the foresight to install fibre optics when they were doing public works projects and we want to make the full use of that utility."
Within the next year or so, Urbanfibre hopes to bring the ultra high-speed communications to 4,400 households in Coquitlam and eastern Port Moody.
Janze said Urbanfibre would eventually like to bring Gigabit internet services to single-family homes in Coquitlam, too, perhaps via aerial wiring.
As well, it's eyeing the city of New Westminster, which is also building a QNet model in its community. And it's in the planning stages for its first residential neighbourhood roll-out or "fibrehood" offering.
But for the time being, leasing QNet fibres on a building-by-building basis in Coquitlam is the main goal for the 12 Urbanfibre employees. "It's exciting to be part of this technology," said Janze, noting the only complaint Urbanfibre may get is that the customer's hardware can't handle the mega speed and needs to be upgraded.
When comparing to other countries, he said, Canada's internet speed is poor and ranks 53rd in the world at 5.67 Mbps versus 28.75 Mbps in Japan, 19.84 Mbps in Russia and 7.03 Mbps in the U.S. (the global average is 7.6 Mbps).
"The shift we saw between dial-up and broadband was monumental. The broadband to ultra high-speed access will be at a greater level."