British Columbia’s First Wireless Connected Community

Sechelt Innovations Ltd. put the District of Sechelt on the map by turning it into British Columbia’s first wireless community, offering a connected network of free public wireless internet in its downtown area. This set Sechelt apart from other municipalities in the province at the time, and positioned the Sunshine Coast municipality as a modern and viable option for businesses and families considering a move from Greater Vancouver.

“This exciting new service – accessible to everyone – will make it easier for tourists on the Sunshine Coast to see local events and map them out for free, as well as for residents using tablets and smart phones while shopping or doing business in Sechelt’s downtown core,” said Tracy Zanchetta, senior manager of business development at Sechelt Innovations Ltd., the (now former) economic development arm of the District of Sechelt.  “Most importantly, the wireless connected community will be an advantage for current and prospective business owners in Sechelt and attractive to the technology sector.”

The $63,000 project to bring a ‘mesh network’ of free wireless Internet to Sechelt, coordinated by Sechelt Innovations, included:

–        11 access points on light standards on Cowrie Street

–        4 businesses that had internal access points

In addition, 22 businesses on busy Cowrie Street agreed to donate 10 per cent of broadband capability to the network.

Sechelt Innovations organized this initiative when Telus extended its fibre optic network to the Sunshine Coast as part of a $1 billion project to spread the network across the province, particularly into rural and semi-rural areas.

The improvements in telecommunications infrastructure also meant long distance charges no longer apply between the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland, which helps business owners in Sechelt keep costs down and grow their business to provincial, national and international markets.

While the network has suffered reliability and maintenance issues, the Sechelt Downtown Business Association in partnership with the District of Sechelt is committed to reaching a more stabilized status with the network, which would allow for improved digital access while people work, shop, and play in the downtown core, as well as opportunities to work towards ‘smart city’ projects, such as web cameras and other community infrastructure in our downtown.