Imagine your day without access to high-speed Internet. How often do we need to check our inboxes, research information, review our health records, or eyeball the daily news and business headlines as they break?
Streaming movies, communicating with friends and family, and checking social media is part of what we consider to be the perks of being connected to the online world; but freedom to information and education is why Internet access is core to our society and economy. This spring 2016, the United Nations went as far as calling access to the Internet a human right.
Having partnered with the Government of Alberta almost two decades ago to construct and operate the Alberta SuperNet — a reliable, high-speed fibre network that interconnects urban centres and rural communities — Axia has a successful track record of servicing Albertans with broadband access.
In fact, because of the SuperNet, we’re the most connected province in Canada today as visible by the CRTC map
AXIA TO CONNECT 40 NEW ALBERTA COMMUNITIES
Axia is now investing in Fibre to the Premise infrastructure in communities across the province, made possible by Alberta SuperNet. Motivated communities have an opportunity to take advantage of this investment that will spur economic prosperity and increase the quality of life for their residents and businesses.
In July 2016, Axia and Partners Group, a global private markets investment management firm, jointly announced the completion of a share acquisition that has provided Axia with access to significant capital for future investment.
On September 7, 2016, Art Price, Axia CEO, and his team announced their plans to invest $100 million into fibre-to-the-premise (high-speed Internet access) to connect 40 Alberta communities to the world. The result will ensure even more rural Albertans have access to world-class high-speed Internet connectivity to their homes and businesses at affordable prices.
“Alberta is our home so we are thrilled to announce this significant investment,” says Price. “This investment, made possible by having access to the SuperNet, will ensure that Alberta will continue to lead Canada as the most connected province in the country.”
Without access to the SuperNet, many individuals and Alberta-based businesses are at a disadvantage in a global economy that demands our ability to connect with ease.
“Business opportunities that rely on powerful networks should not just be limited to major urban centres. Fibre-to-the-premise connection enables individuals and businesses to benefit from high-quality, cost-effective connectivity wherever they live or work in Alberta. It’s truly transformational,” says Price.
MAKE YOUR TOWN A #FIBRETOWN – HOW DO 40 COMMUNITIES GET SELECTED?
The power of the SuperNet is in the hands of the Albertan people.
Axia is ready to radically change Internet experience across Alberta. Stand by for unprecedented speed, reliability, and access to everything the world of Internet can offer. Albertans just have to say yes.
“All we need Albertans to do is put their hands up,” says Robert Price, Vice President of Enterprise and Residential Services, Axia. “We want to come to all communities who are currently under-serviced. But, we need a starting point. What better way to determine which towns to come to than by asking Albertans?”
For Axia to contemplate investment in a community, there needs to be at least a 30 per cent support level from that population.
HANNA, ALBERTA IS THE NEXT #FIBRETOWN
On September 20, 2016 Axia announced that Hanna, Alberta will be the next FibreTown! By advocating to get 30 per cent of homes and businesses to express their interest on Axia’s website, Hanna becomes the next rural town to receive fibre connectivity from Axia.
“We’re looking forward to the Town of Hanna being the next Axia community,” says Town of Hanna Mayor Chris Warwick. “Thanks to the local champions all residents and business owners will have the opportunity to access a state of the art fibre optic Internet service.”
“We’re thrilled to bring world-class fibre Internet to Hanna for the same or less money than residents pay today, offering transformational customer value,” says Robert Price. “Progressive towns like Hanna have shown strong motivation to differentiate their community, close the digital divide between urban and rural centres, and attract the next generation.”
IMPACT OF FIBRE-BROADBAND ON VULCAN
Vulcan has been enjoying fibre-to-the-premise access to the SuperNet since 2015 when Axia began providing fibre connections to small businesses and homes that winter.
Recently, Axia surveyed Vulcan residents regarding their experience with the new fibre broadband. Twenty-nine per cent of customers across Vulcan completed the survey. Results showed that residents believe fibre-to-the-premise broadband access impacted them positively in a number of important ways.
More than 70 percent reported that they felt the town would be more attractive to potential new residents, while 43 per cent indicated that they felt their property value would go up thanks to the availability of the new technology. More than 50 per cent indicated that they felt young people were now more likely to stay in Vulcan because of the access to fibre broadband, which impacts everything from the ability to study to economic factors including access to starting businesses and keeping established businesses competitive in a global market. Over 70 per cent of those surveyed indicated that the town was now more attractive as a location for business in general, and many reported seeing an influx of new businesses come to Vulcan since the addition of fibre-to-the-premise technology.
Since 2014, Vulcan has seen a 14 per cent increase in active business licenses established in town.
“That ends a five-year average decline of two per cent per year,” Price says, adding that 60 per cent of those surveyed reported that since becoming a FibreTown, their overall quality of life had improved.
“That’s the bottom line for us,” Price explains. “When we can impact a community in a positive way, it not only increases their economic stability but ultimately makes their lives better. Because of this, we know fibre-to-the-premise is an important investment for us to put back into Alberta.”
Residents of Vulcan who choose Axia as their Internet and television provider have also saved on fees. Axia currently saves Vulcan residents $120,000 per year thanks to reductions in phone and TV bills alone. Across all communities, Axia currently saves residents $260,000 annually.
(Source: Axia Survey: “Economic Impact of Fibre”)
CALGARY-BORN BUSINESS, SUPPORTING ALBERTANS
Axia remains a Calgary-based and managed corporation. Art Price is the former CEO of Husky Oil, and co-owner of family business, the Sunterra group of companies. You can read more about Price in the current issue of Business in Calgary
“I grew up in rural Alberta; I saw the challenges that citizens and small businesses were having without Internet access and I realized the opportunity in fibre optics,” Art Price says, adding that what makes Axia unique is their open access mission — multiple service providers will be able to use the fibre optic network once established in communities.
About Axia NetMedia Corporation - Axia has developed fibre optic communications infrastructure in Canada, the United States, France and Singapore. In Alberta, Axia’s Fibre to the Premise is currently active in Vulcan, Nanton, Barnwell, Nobleford, Stirling, Pincher Creek, Raymond, and Magrath.
About Partners Group - Partners Group is a global private markets investment management firm with over EUR 46 billion (USD 50 billion) in investment programs under management in private equity, private real estate, private infrastructure and private debt. The firm manages a broad range of customized portfolios for an international clientele of institutional investors. Partners Group is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, and has offices in San Francisco, Houston, New York, São Paulo, London, Guernsey, Paris, Luxembourg, Milan, Munich, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, and Sydney. The firm employs over 800 people and is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (symbol: PGHN) with a major ownership by its partners and employees.