Wightman updates Council on $62 million fibre optic investment

July 7, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Orangeville Council recently received an update on fibre optic internet services in town.

President and CEO of Wightman Communications, Rob Figliuzzi, spoke about his company’s $62 to $66 million investment in Orangeville, which began with the installation of fibre optic in the industrial area in 2020 before moving to residential areas in 2021.

The entire project will see 350,000 meters or 350km of fibre installed throughout Orangeville, passing through roughly 12,000 living units and businesses. It’s expected completion is 2025.

Around 10,000 to 11,000 meters of construction was done last year and in 2022, Wightman’s goal is to install 80,000 meters of fibre.

Most that construction is happening south of Broadway this year and next year it will be in the northern area of town.

Figliuzzi noted the importance of achieving high internet speeds with fibre optic for now and into the future.

“All of our lives today revolve around this utility that we call the Internet,” he said.

“The internet itself, it has been evolving and as it evolves, it does demand more. More bandwidth, faster speeds, and a term that you hear a lot these days, latency – less and less latency.”

Figliuzzi added, “The high-quality video of today is going to be virtual reality tomorrow. A Zoom meeting with your doctor today, that’s going to be a virtual medical diagnosis tomorrow. Whatever speeds the internet applications of the future will demand, there is no technology better than fiber to accommodate that.”

Fibre optic cables are made of glass, transmitting data through pulses of light that travels at nearly the speed of light. This means the infrastructure is there to scale up speeds as needed in the future.

Construction for installing fibre optic cabling is done with directional drilling, which means all the fibre is buried in conduit. Figliuzzi said nothing looks different above the ground after they do an installation.

The scope of the project is quite large, with 350km of fibre optic cabling to be laid.

“We will be going up and down every street in Orangeville. The only exception right now is the downtown core,” he noted. “Downtown cores are always complicated, and I’m sure in a lot of ways, it’s undesirable to have drills on the main strip.”

The main downtown area will be done at a later date, Figliuzzi said.

“To minimize construction activity as much as possible, we do work with other utility providers, and any construction that is upcoming with them, or vice versa, we will piggyback on each other’s construction,” Figliuzzi explained.

“I’d suggest there is actually pretty good awareness within the community of what our project is all about. But we do drop off letters to every home and business just before construction comes to the street.”

Figliuzzi stressed that all construction is done on public property or roadways and none of it impacts private property.

Coun. Debbie Sherwood said a resident reached out to her with this concern, saying Wightman is ripping up driveways and boulevards, but this misconception was addressed.

Coun. Todd Taylor noted he’s heard similar concerns, with people worried about their backyards being impacted.

Figliuzzi stressed that Wightman doesn’t have to go through anyone’s backyard and respect private property.

“With a project of this scale…there tends to be some misinformation and one of our bigger challenges to kind of keep that as corralled as possible,” he said.

“All of our construction is on the municipal right away. It is not on any sort of private property. The only time we go into private property is when a home or business has signed up for our service, and then we take a service wire into that location. But that is only with homeowner approval. We would not go into any property otherwise.”

Wightman has offered fibre to the home for the last 20 years and was the first company in Canada to completely build over a town with fibre, said Figliuzzi. Since doing their first town, Wightman has covered 20 other communities with fibre optic.

Wightman has been providing telecom/communication services for over 100 year, spanning from Owen Sound to Fergus and Stratford to Orangeville.

They recently opened a retail location in town at 95 First Street, Unit B4.

Orangeville Council’s next meeting is July 11.

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