Agassiz – British Columbia
Friday, 21 September 2012, 06:59 PM
In 2007, the Seabird Island Band launched a wireless broadband network to provide services to their community members. Seabird Wi-fi is fully owned and operated by the band, and receives no external funding. It connects local services such as health and education. It also provides community members with access to low cost broadband services.
Prior to the launch of the Seabird Wi-Fi network, over one third of community members could not access the Internet that was available through Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The service that was available was unreliable and depended on very outdated equipment.
The Chief and Council knew that installing the Seabird Wi-Fi network would not be an economically sustainable initiative. However, they deemed it to be an essential community service.
The network is now used for a number of community services. It created opportunities for eHealth services within the community, and it has also provided opportunities for online learning. This video looks at the history of the Seabird Wi-Fi. It also provides various community perspectives on the value of the network.
Building local capacity is an important part of the project. Many community members have developed new skills through the process of building the network. The Seabird Island College also provides training programs in information technology.