Less than a year after it was first announced last December, Tbaytel has brought “Fibre” to Fort Frances.
The milestone was celebrated Monday during a noon-hour ceremony at the Civic Centre, although some local customers got their new high-speed Internet, digital TV, landline phone, and security services as early as Nov. 1.
“We are so pleased now to offer customers here a full suite of connected home, and connected business, products which will vastly improve their overall experience,” Tbaytel president and CEO Dan Topatigh said.
“We're proud to be the carrier to bring the customers more choice, better value, and ease and convenience of working with one provider,” he added.
Tbyatel's fibre optic network is keeping up with the changing demands of customers, delivering virtually unlimited bandwidth and reliable service—which means customers will have a better experience.
“Tbaytel is thrilled to help move Fort Frances and the entire region forward into the future,” said Topatigh.
He noted the “Fibre” expansion was an ambitious undertaking.
Since December, Tbaytel has been busy working first with network planning, then the installation of infrastructure around Fort Frances.
Staff now are busy getting customers all set up.
The company also had a new regional network centre built on Sixth Street West.
Topatigh said Tbaytel is extremely proud of this accomplishment, adding it absolutely would not have been possible without the support and positive working relationships established with key community partners here in Fort Frances.
“In addition to the tireless efforts of a number of Tbaytel's own employees, we also have a number of key community partners to thank, including the Town of Fort Frances, Fort Frances Power Corp., our local sales partner, Sight & Sound, and all of the contractors who contributed to the success of the project along the way,” he noted.
“For Tbaytel, the success of this project represents the growth of our company, and this is one of the reasons why it is so significant for the Tbaytel organization,” Topatigh added.
“We look forward to working together to support all of our new customers as they start to experience everything that Tbaytel 'Fibre' has to offer.”
Simone Laatu, Tbaytel's vice-president and chief technology and information officer, said it's hard to believe that less than a year ago (Dec. 13 to be exact), the company was in Fort Frances announcing the town would be the first outside Thunder Bay to get “Fibre.”
“It's feels like yesterday to me," she admitted. ”It's been a bit of a whirlwind.
“Since that time, we've embarked on a very ambitious project to build a brand new, state-of-the-art fibre optic facilities,” added Laatu.
“I'm so pleased that Tbaytel is now offering a full suite of connected home and business services to the people of Fort Frances.”
Coun. Ken Perry noted council recognized the need to enhance the town's information infrastructure capabilities a number of years ago when developing its most recent strategic plan.
One of the main goals was to support economic and community development by looking at the potential of advance broadband infrastructure through the installation of a fibre optic network.
So when council originally learned that Tbaytel was planning to start this project, it was thrilled about what that would mean for the community.
“Fort Frances is an amazing community with so much to offer in our region,” said Coun. Perry.
“We are a vibrant community that is already doing exciting things, and we believe that having access to Tbaytel 'Fibre' is only going to allow us to do more,” he added.
Coun. Perry said council is pleased Fort Frances now has joined the list of cities and town around the world operating as part of a fibre network.
Based on Tbaytel's experience with its fibre optic network in Thunder Bay, Topatigh said the network here is an incredibly reliable delivery mechanism which, going forward, means low cost of maintenance for the company.
He noted the building of the network and the Nov. 1 launch went according to schedule, adding the “exceptional” condition of the FFPC's infrastructure helped matters greatly.
Tbaytel already has seen a high level of interest among new Fort Frances customers, added Topatigh.
“We've certainly met and exceeded our expectation for the first year,” he remarked.
“We asked people to be a little bit patient," he noted. ”We're trying to get as many installs as we can done in a short period of time.
“What we are seeing is a wide range of businesses and residents looking for an alternative that's going to allow them to bundle all of their services,” Topatigh said.
“We expect the 'take rate' will be better than what we anticipated.”
Residents and businesses looking to join those who already have signed up can visit Tbaytel's local sales partner, Sight & Sound Audio Video Ltd., on Scott Street.
They also can call Tbaytel directly at 1-800-264-9501.
Monday's launch was followed by a media tour of Tbaytel's new regional network centre on Sixth Street West.
This building, which is a technical infrastructure headquarters where the actual fibre services terminate, was built over the summer by Ed Kaun & Sons Ltd.
In addition to providing office space for Tbaytel staff working here, it houses network components that support the delivery of all five of its products and services.
It also provides storage for equipment used by Tbaytel technicians to maintain network components in the region.