Patience and Planning Deliver DSL to Deep River
Nicholas Aboumossa (left) of Bell Symaptico|
demonstrates high speed service to now former
Mayor of Deep River, John Murphy
Patience and Planning Deliver DSL to Deep RiverJohn Walden EDO in Deep River pursued a strategic plan that built a strong relationship with Bell Canada and delivered high speed Internet to his Ottawa Valley community.
John Walden is the Economic Development Officer for Deep River Ontario. Deep River is a town of 2000 homes located 35 minutes west of Pembroke on the TransCanada Highway. It's reason-for-being is almost entirely centred on providing community services for the employees who work at the AECL facility at Chalk River.
This is why it seemed so critical to John in 2001, when he discovered that of 11 new employees joining AECL that year, 9 had decided to reside elsewhere. For the most part that was either in nearby Petawawa or in Pembroke. This was a serious set back from Deep River's historical 50% success rate in attracting new AECL employees and their families to live in his community.
What was the reason for this downturn? Both Petawawa and Pembroke had recently succeeded in obtaining DSL services for their communities. It would appear that this drawing card was so compelling that it had become a serious threat to Deep River's ability to sustain its population level.
"Based on our initial inquiries", said John "we found that Bell normally prioritizes a community's application for DSL service based on population and number of phone lines. Using these criterion alone, it would be years before Deep River would receive DSL service."
This wasn't fair. Despite its small population of 4000 residents, Deep River has the highest average education level of any community in Canada. The uptake rate for a community like this one had to be much higher than it would be in any "average community".
To prove this point Deep River surveyed a sample of their citizens and found that an overwhelming percentage of them wanted and would be willing to pay for DSL service.
John Walden EDO in Deep River pursued a strategic plan that built a strong relationship with Bell Canada and delivered high speed Internet to his Ottawa Valley community.
This was the tool that John Walden needed. Equipped with survey results that showed that Deep River had far above average demand for DSL relative to its population, he was able to establish the interest of two potential suppliers. One was a wireless company called Clear Sailing Networks and the other was Bell.
"The key to getting Bell's attention" says John "was finding the right contact." The right contact for John, was Cheryl Burwash in Ottawa who was the Bell Regional Director Community Development for his area. The other key to getting Bell's attention may have been to suggest that Deep River would be willing to share half the cost of deploying DSL in their community with Bell.
Cheryl explains, "My role at Bell is get to know communities, what their priorities are, and determine how Bell can become an enabler to help them achieve those goals." In today's world this often means that she is looking for ways for communities like Deep River to obtain DSL service, despite the fact that they do not meet the typical statistical profile of high demand communities. There are six Bell Regional Directors in Ontario. Each director services the needs of a specific geographic territory.
After numerous meeting between Deep River and Cheryl Burwash's group, John had established two viable options for achieving high-speed service. One was based on Clear Sailing Networks providing a wireless service in the community and the other was based on Bell providing DSL service conditional on town council approving a motion to pay for half the cost of installation.
As events unfolded, Bell deployed DSL in Deep River despite not receiving the subsidy from town council. The first bay of 432 DSL lines filled almost immediately, and Bell is now working on filling a second bay. John credits Deep River's success to the fact that Cheryl's team had been sold on the viability of the Deep River market. "Cheryl and our account representative Aaron McIntosh were both great." Said John, "They fought for our cause within Bell and won."
As for Clear Sailing Networks, they had been willing to move forward in Deep River but reconsidered once they learned that they would be competing with Bell DSL service within the community. Clear Sailing CTO, Anthony Van Alphen commented, "Wireless and DSL both provide comparable performance, for a comparable price. But that becomes the challenge. When the two services are available in the same market; given a choice, a consumer will usually choose DSL." Anthony explained that there are still areas around Deep River without access to DSL that could have been serviced by wireless, but after the main part of the community had access to DSL, there were not enough potential customers left over to make his company's project viable.
For information on how to locate your own Bell Regional Director Community Development, contact Cheryl Burwash at 613-781-5915. For information on Clear Sailing Networks visit: www.concept42.com .