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Network to level playing field for area businesses. (Parry Sound: Special Report).

The need for broadband connectivity, which includes the Internet and cell expansion, is being assessed for Parry Sound and area.

Robert Pachal, managing director for Acres Pacom Telecommunications Consulting Group, is speaking with customers and service providers, like Bell Canada, to determine if there is a need for high-speed Internet access in the Parry Sound area.

The initial stages will consist of a "realistic analysis of the existing infrastructure, including services, which may provide fibre optic cables and microwaveable radio."

At some point Pachal will also assess availability of wireless Internet service providers (ISPs), since a good portion of the Parry Sound population are cottagers.

"State-of-the-art cellular coverage may provide a potential solution for broadband Internet services to rural communities," Pachal says.

The goal is to make Parry Sound and area infrastructure comparable to that of other larger centres in the North, thereby levelling the playing field, he adds.

As it stands now, the city has an analogue system, which consists of copper wiring.

"It is not capable of providing high-speed Internet service," he says.

The next stage is to develop business plans. This will include operating and capital costs, coupled with money from users and partners.

"We have to see how much of a business there is for service providers and how much it is going to cost," Pachal says.

After compiling information, Pachal intends to develop a feasibility study, which will include technology and business plans. It will then be submitted to some provincial and federal agencies for approval. Once it has been passed, Pachal will look to the Parry Sound business community to make a "substantial contribution."

Funding for such a project will be a "successful 50/50 arrangement between private and public partnerships, where each partner contributes to the solution," Pachal says.

He is looking to FedNor and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. (NOHFC) for funding.

Bill Spinney, Parry Sound and Area's Community Business and Development Centre general manager, says funding for the 'feasibility study will again come from FedNor and the NOHFC, both contributing $24,000 towards the study. Another $4,000 will be coming from Parry Sound Area (PSA) and Sudbury's own Net Central. The total cost for the project is not yet known, however, it will take approximately $1 million for Parry Sound users to access broadband connectivity from the northern network.

NetCentral will be providing the high-capacity broadband access to the town, at which point other local service providers will be able to hook into the network.

"(NetCentral) will be used as a jumping off point," Pachal says.

Telephone and utility companies are among local businesses in Parry Sound expressing an interest in connecting to the northern network provider.

NetCentral is a community-based network servicing Manitoulin Island, Chapleau, Elliot Lake and now Parry Sound.

Spinney and Pachal expect to wait two to five months for approval on the feasibility study. Because of the harsh winters, they do not anticipate implementing the project until spring 2003.

Users of the broadband connectivity service would include hospitals, libraries, public offices, small and large businesses, as well as residential users.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:broadband connectivity planned for Parry Sound, Ontario
Author:Louiseize, Kelly
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 1, 2002
Words:514
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