Rural High-Speed Internet Access—Enough with the problem, bring on the solution

By: Dr. Sayed-Amr (Sisso)  El-Hamamsy
For decades, there have been countless studies and commitments to end the digital divide in Canada between those that have access to high-speed, reliable, affordable internet and those who do not. The challenge of delivering high-speed internet to all Canadians has been explored to death and across multiple mandates, successive governments have committed billions of dollars to address the problem. At Mage Networks, we’re done talking about the problem and are delivering solutions.
In hundreds of rural and semi-rural areas such as Milton and its surroundings, people actually aren’t that far from high-speed internet—there are millions of kilometres of communications fibre and hundreds of communications towers in Canada. The key is being able to tie in individual residences in areas where population or geography make additional towers or fibre connectivity to those homes simply uneconomic.
The project that has recently been announced for rural Milton is proof that by adopting and applying new technologies, we can, in fact, deliver reliable, affordable internet where it is not available now. The Milton project network design begins from Brookville and moves outward. Within the first five kilometre radius, we expect to connect up to 350 homes by the spring of 2021 and are planning further expansion outwards given the strong interest from homeowners beyond the initial project scope.
Our project in Milton will use mesh technology, avoiding the need for towers and cellular infrastructure. It is less expensive, more flexible and will provide access to each residence— something that towers and fibre alone just cannot achieve economically. Mage Networks’ MagiNet™ is formed by hardware and firmware designed by our team and seamlessly uses wireless and wired connections to create coverage over, under, and around any sized area without degradation in speed or consistency.
We use data pipelines in a series of short hops, where the locations are strategically selected to distribute the data from central locations. Those data pipelines which are designed specifically for each network and can include fibre and wireless components, carry multiple signals in multiple directions, intelligently choosing whichever routes will avoid obstacles and interference with other data pipelines. The data automatically zips on and off wired and wireless connections to maximize efficiency.
The result is that all users get the best quality connection, regardless of their location in the network. Because of the many options for the signals to route, (including around or under obstacles) there is no degradation in speed experienced by the users. In fact, we installed a data pipeline network on the Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan over an area of almost 300 km2 with no measurable degradation in quality, giving MagiNet™ nearly unlimited range. And, this can be achieved for a fraction of the cost of installing fibre directly to each residence. Depending on local variables including topography, MagiNet™ is anywhere from six to ten times less expensive to install than fibre.
Mage Networks has successfully demonstrated the viability and resiliency of these types of networks in various rural, remote and geographically challenging communities in Canada and around the world. The delivery of high-speed internet connectivity to all Canadians will take continued support from all levels of government both financially and politically. Our project in rural Milton is a demonstration of how industry and governments can come together to actually address the problem of delivering high speed internet to underserved communities and Canadians by designing and implementing a network using new techniques and technology.
The time to discuss the problem of rural high-speed internet access has come and gone and Canadians just want to get on with the job of delivering on those commitments. We’re happy to be part of the solution and excited to work with residents in rural Milton to demonstrate just how it can be done.
Dr. Sayed-Amr (Sisso) El-Hamamsy is the President, and CEO of Mage Networks Networks Inc.