By David F. Rooney
While most Internet users in Revelstoke are eagerly anticipating the arrival of true high-speed Internet service from Telus, 47 families on Begbie Bench are feeling neglected by the company’s decision to not deliver the service to them.
They are feeling especially put out because the service is available to people living along Airport Way on the east bank of the Columbia River.
“We truly apologize for this,” Telus spokeswoman Liz Sauve said Thursday, July 9. “It was our mistake.”
Be that as it may, Telus has no plans to bring these now-ignored families into the high-speed Internet fold any time in the near future.
“It would cost us several hundred thousand dollars to extend the infrastructure,” she said.
The company may well change its mind if development continues along Begbie Bench, Sauve said, but that isn’t mollifying area residents.
In a June 8 e-mail to Loni Parker, director of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Area B that the residents are living in, Graham Harper characterized the telecommunications company’s mistake as “an indignity.”
The original joint news release issued by the City and Telus in March said only that high-speed Internet was coming to Revelstoke and made no specific mention of homes in Area B. However, a web page containing additional information included a map that clearly showed that Begbie Bench was within the installation area. That map later vanished and was replaced by a new one excluding the area.
“At the time, the Telus map (attached) clearly showed the inclusion of the Begbie Bench area, and (so) it was reported in various news media,” Harper said in his e-mail complaint to Parker.
“It is therefore an indignity that the residents of the Begbie Bench area were subsequently ‘taken off’ the map with no information, discussion or involvement. Most properties in the area currently do not even receive a basic ADSL service from Telus and rely on expensive alternatives like satellite, wireless and radio links – the initial announcement was therefore met with great excitement and expectation from the residents after many years of nothing.”
Parker’s reply, sent to Harper on July 5, dashed any hope that Begbie Bench residents may have had.
“As you know I have been talking to Bert Braebrook from Telus about their ‘error’ and that I have requested that Telus at least provide some service [such as an Air Card] outside of fibre optics for those residents who do not currently receive ADSL,” she said in an e-mail to Harper. “I requested that they also provide reasonable rates to our residents. He said he would follow up with their technical and marketing branch to see what could be possible and that he would get back to me.
“On Friday afternoon I called him for an update and he confirmed to me that there is currently no need for a telephone line upgrade in our area and that Telus will not be providing Air Cards at a discount rate for the Begbie Bench residents who currently do not receive ADSL. His explanation was that it would be precedent setting and that they would then have to provide the same service to other residents who are not receiving Fibre Optics. My arguments that it wouldn’t be precedent setting due to the ‘error’ that did not occur in the other areas was noted and disregarded.
“He also stated that Telus is responsible to the public and their shareholders and that upgrades need to make sense from a business case scenario. Obviously they will only do what make sense “economically” for them and they have determined that under their current pricing regime there is no profit to be made by providing fibre optics in our area. I was hopeful that Telus might make some concessions due to the magnitude of their ‘error’ and I am very disappointed with their response.”
Needless to say, some residents are very disappointed — even angry.
“In the past Telus kept calling us to sell us ADSL,” Peter Humphreys said in an e-mail. “I would always sign up then they would call back and advise us that it is not available. After several of these calls we canceled our Telus cell phones and went to Bell (same network). We have recently canceled our home phone line as well.
“My opinion is that if they don’t support us we should not support them. I am considering doing the same for my business lines as well.”