Gray County to TBM: Unlikely to Install Fiber Optics During Road Construction

The hope that Gray County would install fiber optic infrastructure during major road construction projects has come up against the complex reality of the difficulties in connecting rural areas to broadband services.

Gray County Deputy Chief Executive Randy Scherzer presented a report on fiber optic installations at highway projects to the County Council’s Committee of the Whole on April 28. The report was generated after the Blue Mountains Council passed a resolution on April 12 asking the county for a status update on the possibility of installing fiber or related infrastructure when rebuilding highways in county 2 and 13.

In the resolution, Blue Mountains Council noted that Section 8.9.4(3) of the County of Gray Official Plan states, “In the reconstruction of County Roads or the CP Rail Trail, the County will consider installing a fiber or a conduit so that the future fiber can connect with the whole fiber network. Local municipalities are also encouraged to install fiber or conduit when rebuilding roads. The county, in consultation with local municipalities, telecommunications providers, and SWIFT, will develop a fiber/conduit specification for the installation of fiber and conduit. An ownership model will also be developed in consultation with SWIFT. »

Scherzer explained to council that the best place to put fiber infrastructure is at the edge of the straight as close to the property line as possible. He said that for many road projects, there is no excavation right away.

“Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as sticking a pipe in the ground in the hope that a telecom provider will use it in the future,” Scherzer said.

Schezer added that individual telecom providers have their own preferences and standards for fiber infrastructure and there is no agreed industry standard. If the county randomly chose a specific fiber technology to install, it could be seen as an advantage for some service providers over others. Scherzer said that reality has proven to be a challenge across the province.

“No other municipality has established a consistent approach,” he said.

Soever suggested that if the county is unable to follow the fiber optic directive in the official plan, that section should be changed.

“The language of the Official Plan is prescriptive. Shouldn’t we change the Official Plan if we don’t do it anymore? ” He asked.

Scherzer said county staff will revisit that wording in the official plan.

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