One source has been local school division’s that have had fibre-optic cable connecting their individual schools throughout their region. As is often the case, there is much more fibre-optic cable available than is needed by an individual user or entity, resulting in “dark fibre” or unused fibre. In the past several years some school divisions have partnered with local internet providers to allow them to use this otherwise unused fibre-optic cable that runs to their schools to provide service to homes in those communities. This has been a win-win partnership in that it benefits the community and can provide additional resources for the Division depending on the nature of the agreement.
The announcement follows the province releasing a tender in May 2020 for a company to use the existing “dark fibre” network to bring connectivity to underserved communities.
The thousands of kilometres of the network was first built to connect remote Manitoba Hydro generating stations and work camps but is now unused.
Central Services Minister and Brandon West Progressive Conservative MLA Reg Helwer said allowing Xplornet to use the existing dark fibre network significantly reduces the cost of bringing high-speed internet access to communities and speeds up the process. Doing so doesn’t cost the province any money, he said.
Progress is now being made with Tierra del Fuego, which includes its entire existing 357km, dark fibre Provincial Network, plus any other future network that will be deployed, allowing Arsat responsibility for its lighting, operation, marketing and maintenance. The network will be connected to the rest of the country through Refeo managed by Arsat , expanding its reach from the Estancia Cullen area of Tierra del Fuego to the towns of San Sebastián, Río Grande, Tolhuin and the provincial capital. The project is being financed by federal agency, Enacom.
The project aims to benefit Tierra del Fuego’s 176,000 inhabitants from the lighting of the dark fibre since it crosses its three main cities, and other populations -such as Puerto Almanza, Lago Escondido and other regions – that at the moment do not have service.