Goals for Salmon Arm sync perfectly with the opportunities that Telus and fibre optics provide.
Doug Sage, strategic programs director with Telus, brought this message to the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society’s Fourth Annual Business Forum on Feb. 19.
Speaking to the Observer after his presentation, he said he heard from several people that Salmon Arm wants to attract investment, wants to attract and keep young people in the community, wants to care for the elderly and, wants visitors to stay longer.
“What struck me, on each of these elements,” he said, is that Telus addresses each one. Telus services and technology allow at-home workers to work wherever they want, he says. It also allows a broad education without the travel.
“You can take courses from almost any university from anywhere these days,” he says.
Sage said Telus has also invested in health care, allowing people to stay at home while accessing doctors and specialists from afar. High-definition video allows patients to speak directly to a physician.
Sage also notes that businesses can send their employees to training programs without physically sending them.
Referring to Tele-presence, a technology that is touted as going beyond standard video conferencing, Sage says with a laugh: “Without exposing my Star Trek inner geek, it’s as close as it comes to the Holodeck. If the other person is eating something you almost want to reach over and take a bite – it’s that good. It has really been a life saver, a work-life balance cost saver.”
The uses for it in small businesses and households are vast, he says.
Sage also referred to ‘cloud computing,’ which allows businesses to store, access and share data by using a remote server. He said Telus has a server data storage facility in Kamloops, so that businesses “don’t have to have a bunch of servers on site.”
He notes that providing Salmon Arm with fibre optics, one of the first communities to get the technology, has been difficult, mainly because of freezing temperatures.
“We chose Salmon Arm, not to torture you, not because we wanted to put someone out there to test it. Salmon Arm is a great Telus customer… The good news is, you get to be first, the bad news is, you have to be first.”
He said about a third of the town has been done, with the next third early to mid-March and the final third, “should be up by the first week of April, barring the next Armageddon.”
He said visiting the city during freezing temperatures gave him an appreciation of “how hard it is for folks doing the digging and hanging the fibre…”
He said fibre optics technology means each residence has a dedicated strand, so, unlike cable, it won’t slow down no matter how many people are using it at peak periods in the neighbourhood.