Trees as internet towers? Rideau Lakes Council review company's novel approach to reach underserved areas

·3 min read

Rideau Lakes council is considering an internet service proposal from KVC 2020 Technologies — a relatively new company claiming that their innovative and unique approach will deliver quick and reliable services at a small cost.

“We can show you that we can deliver and cover broadband requirements for most of the people on the shorelines of Upper Rideau Lake in a timely fashion,” said Thomas Kim, a representative of KVC 2020 Technologies, in a presentation to Rideau Lakes council on Mar. 22.

Kim revealed that the company can set up one 100-foot tower in a day — along with signal propagation — by utilizing nature and using existing trees.

“We incorporate our towers through the trees. One of the advantages is that (with our) towers not built by digging the ground, (there are) no environmental assessments required, no time-consuming process,” Kim said.

Rideau Lakes Mayor Arie Hoogenboom said that “it’s a very interesting concept.”

KVC 2020, according to Kim, was started 15 years ago, and has been successful in installing internet services in various locations across Ontario such as Acton, Burlington, Flamborough, Kemptville, Milton, Mississauga, Mono/Orangeville, Seguin and Parry Sound.

“We’re not a multimillion-dollar company, nor are we bringing funding. But I’d like to let people know that our project is unique. Time is of the essence especially when people are forced to stay home and have to deal with the internet,” Kim added.

The mayor acknowledged that “a lot of players (are) stepping up to the marketplace. (It will be) good down the road to our consumers.”

Council has also recently looked at a Bell tower proposal to be built at The Opinicon in Chaffey's Lock.

Coun. Marcia Maxwell said that a lot of focus had been on building cellphone towers, “but what we really need is the internet in this area. It’s good to see this.”

Internet Service Challenges

One of the challenges in rural areas, according to Kim, is line of sight (LOS).

“In the wireless world, LOS is a major factor for propagating good and clean signal from point A to B. In rural areas, foliage and landscape could act as an impediment,” Kim explained.

Since their company “embraces nature” by using trees as part of their broadband design, they are able to achieve flexibility in delivering internet services to remote and rural areas.

Another challenge is the cost and time required to build towers.

Each tower costs an average of $10-$50,000, along with time delays due to environmental assessments, building permits, and excavation time.

“What I’d like to convey is a simple message that we pretty well have delivered high speed internet. At minimum an end-user should be able to watch videos such as YouTube or Netflix,” Kim said.

KVC’s internet service plans range from $69.99 monthly for a basic service (plus installation fees of $325) to $139.99 monthly (plus $475 installation fees) for internet speeds up to 50/10 megabits per second download and upload speeds.

The KVC proposal aims to provide services to 70 per cent of residents in the Upper Rideau Lake shoreline stretching from the Westport Harbour Club to the Narrows Lock campground, with plans to expand to other areas in the future.

Rideau Lakes council approved a motion for staff to carry out further research including technical review of the KVC 2020 Technologies proposal on Mar. 22.

Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News