Maxwell J. Toms                                                                                                      

49 Julian Street, Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada, K7C 3W7   (613) 257-7290



Maxwell J. Toms, 2002, amended


The last two decades of the twentieth century has seen an exponential growth in Internet use by all levels of business, industry and government. Internet penetration into private residences has also shown this growth, making the WWW a major player as a means of communication to consumers. In fact it has been reported that data now comprises more than 80 percent of the traffic across public networks today and that amount continues to grow.

This growth, and the opportunity it presents, has been so compelling that governments, including Federal, Provincial, County and Municipal, have been moving at a rapid pace to ensure that this medium will be the means of choice for communication with citizens. Add to this the need to aggregate information dissemination and expensive application usage such as Tax/Bylaw Information and Reporting Systems and-or Geographical Information Systems (GIS), to make them affordable for small municipalities, a high performance broadband network is becoming essential for the survival of rural Canada.

The new information age and the associated economic benefits are still basically unavailable in most rural areas. As a result, many rural municipalities have, and continue to, experience a loss of employment opportunities for its citizens.  Rural towns and townships only have modest economic development resources at best, and unless they have some special feature, they have difficulty attracting modern corporations that rely on the information age and related technologies. The net loss of jobs or poor growth over the last decade is in stark contrast with boom development in larger metropolitan areas such as Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver, where groupings of resources, industry and commercial activity are the norm. Indeed, economic benefits do not even seem to extend to the rural areas around those centers.


A major problem for rural Canada: The relative inability to attract and retain jobs associated with the high technology, communications sectors, and related high-tech support activities, such as engineering, assembly, component manufacturing and software development.

A rollout of broadband services to these areas will be a significant help.



It must be recognized that in this new economy, the information based functions of modern business and governments require relatively large bandwidth to operate efficiently. Typical communications requirements for the consumer include Internet access, multi-media, entertainment, on-line support and electronic commerce. For business, this expands to include data access and sharing, video-conferencing, publication, dissemination and remote access for GIS, software development, and engineering design. In addition, many manufacturing firms have centralized design necessitating a means of getting design info to and from the production facilities. In this 'just-in-time' economy, timeliness is essential, so broadband communication is very much required. For government, access and sharing of expensive taxation and management software and databases, and the provision of services to ratepayers, much more economical on-line, are additional requirements for municipalities. 


Since most of the information-based business and government functions require data transfer, organizations wishing to take advantage of broadband efficiencies and local economies, relying on the jobs they bring, must be connected.



How much access speed is really enough?

Discussions with services suppliers will get you an answer, limited to what they provide.

A bandwidth standard postulated by both Federal and Provincial levels of government, at recent conferences, suggest an Internet connection speed of at least 1.5 Mbps, full duplex (both directions), will be required for every general client. Those in the information and computer service industries will require much more.

Network connectivity within organizations will need to be much greater, at least 10 Mbps, preferably more, to accommodate sharing of applications and data such as GIS.

Note also, that the two usage domains, Business (including Governments) and Consumer (residential, not home offices) should be considered separately when planning broadband systems:

a.            Business: To properly use on-line applications such as Virtual Private Networks (VPN) over the Internet, Video conferencing and data access and dissemination, the business user requires full duplex communication (out-going equal to the incoming) with a minimum access bandwidth of 1 Mbps.

b.           Consumer requirements are generally limited to Internet access and video streaming, so could be limited to an asymmetric communication, with a minimum of 1 Mbps receiving and 256 Kbps sending, provided there is no business in the home.

Again, these projections should be taken as minimums for Internet access only. A budget for a planned growth to 10 Mbps for commercial, and a doubling of the consumer need, should be built into any 5-year plan. Note that a home office must be considered to be a business user. As noted above, access within a client’s network should be much larger, at least 10 to 100 Mbps.



Access options, described below, refer to private service providers including those offered by Telephone, Cable, Satellite and Wireless. Their offerings:

a.            Services provided by Telcos are limited and tend to be expensive due to their voice-communications mandate. Their voice switching and copper unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) circuits are not very suitable for broadband communications, excepting short ranges of 4 km or less. Old equipment, multiple wire gauges, loads and bridge taps limit the range that can be realized. Many rural exchange switches do not support broadband at all.

Most Telco services are either not available in rural areas, or if so, are quite expensive, and do not meet the required investment returns. The Telco’s service of choice seems to be ADSL, a media that is limited in both bandwidth and radius of coverage. It meets the consumer requirement only within the small coverage areas offered, usually only urban areas. 

Cable Co marketing jabs at the Telco’s performance include 'download rigor mortis' in reference to the slow speed of dial-up and 'bandwidth exclusion zones' in reference to the short range of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and Asymmetric DSL (ADSL) services.

Without major replacement of plant, an expensive and unlikely option for many rural areas, the Telco will not be an option for broadband distribution in most rural areas, and even then, only in the more densely populated (urban) areas, near their switch.


b.            Services provided by Cable Companies have many of the same limitations noted above. While Cable uses coax to distribute services, primarily television via radio frequency, the range, serial transmission and location of service (urban areas only), are major issues in rural Canada.

Because it was designed for distribution of a large number of television channels, cable is quite limited for two-way broadband distribution. All clients on a segment share the available bandwidth, seriously limiting performance.

Cable modems also have major security issues and at best, only meet the consumer requirement, and then only within the small coverage areas offered.

Competitive marketing jabs at cable’s performance include 'R_not-at-home' and 'I bought the neighbourhood' themes.

Due to poor penetration and limited services offered, Cable will not be a significant option for rural broadband distribution, and even then, only the more densely populated (urban) parts.


c.            Services provided by satellite carriers also have problems providing a commercial grade of service to rural users due to spectrum, bandwidth, latency, and cost limitations. Most satellite access is for downloading only, with an upload through dial-up.

Given a low bandwidth of typically <0.5 Mbps, satellite will not even meet the a normal consumer need.

Higher performance two-way systems are available, but at a much higher cost. Further, the small amount of RF spectrum allocated, suggests that satellite delivery to large numbers of rural users at an affordable price is just not in the cards.

Satellite companies will not be a significant option for rural broadband distribution, except to areas where no other service can be provided.


d.            Privately funded wireless systems have limitations, due to performance, cost and life cycle issues. While it seems, at least for rural distribution, wireless may be a viable option for Internet access; realizable bandwidth and security have emerged as key problems.

To meet a design goal of at least 1 Mbps per client, most wireless multi-point systems would be limited to 20-40 clients, or less, per tower, acceptable in only the most rural of areas.

Due to the broadcast nature of wireless, transmission security is also troublesome. Encryption techniques and proprietary protocols can help. However a serious hacker with available tools can break the codes of any open distribution system is a matter of seconds. Experience has shown that small-to-medium businesses will only reluctantly use these systems and only when no other exists. Large branch-plant companies will not expose their corporate business systems to wireless under any circumstances.

Wireless can out perform some media in rural environments. It will be a significant option where other services cannot be provided at a reasonable price.



A particular solution depends on the perceived need, as well as physical factors such as the area to be covered and local client density. While some access may be available to rural urban residents through cable, by 2000, the Township of South Dundas found it woefully inadequate to meet its business and industry requirements. To get a high capacity system, necessary to provide the desired economic stimulus, the Township found itself limited to building its own system, which due to the high cost required a multi-phase plan for which additional funding help would be required.

In its research, the community discovered that a publicly owned system does not have the same perception as a privately owned system. To get the required creditability needed to attract major industries, and to be able to exert a measure of control so the correct solutions will be provided, the community would need to be involved. This solved many cost and scope issues. To meet the rural need, sustainability, and growth potential, the plan called for a hybrid system, using available technology, with fibre-optics for urban areas and a high performance wireless system covering rural farms and residents.


Businesses have much less of a problem using wireless on a Community owned system due to the potential for public policy, control, scrutiny and support.




The Return on Investment Conundrum

Many suppliers and rural community champions attempt to develop a traditional business plan with a supporting return on investment (ROI) for capital expended. This makes little sense when the key reason for the lack of a broadband service is primarily due to the fact that any potential ROI is little or non-existent for these areas in the first place. Thus, rural areas cannot expect to get broadband service if it expects private business fund and field them, with only generated revenue to supply the returns.

Experience shows that even with grant capital, survivability of a private or an unsupported non-profit system operator does not ensure success. A collaboration of the municipality and business is necessary, at least in the beginning.

Who is the biggest benefactor?

For the municipality, the real justification for delivery of these services, apart from improvements in the quality of life for its rural citizens and their ability to partake in the information age, it is the ability of the local economy to partake in the ‘information age’.

This and the fact that governments need this capability to deliver info-based services to citizens while maximizing communication efficiencies, puts these service delivery systems squarely in the public domain.

When you add the economic development necessities, and one wonders how services delivery infrastructure could ever have been thought to be that of a private business domain only. Of course, all of services to be delivered are an area of participation for private business.


Given that business needs an affordable service, only the community can accrue the key ROI of a broadband infrastructure rollout, namely economic growth.

The second important benefit, accruing mainly to government (at all levels), is the provision of an efficient means to inter-communicate and to deliver rural support such as, health, education, conferencing, GIS, application sharing and citizen access.


Quote from the Colombia Basin broadband project, in BC, recipients of the largest Industry Canada BRAND grant:

The Open Network concept is modeled after the road network. In this time-proven model, the public owns the infrastructure and controls the policies regarding it, such as speed limits. The private sector’s role is to compete to build it, to contract to maintain it, and to develop and offer needed services on it.

It is interesting to note that if we built roads like we build telecommunications networks, private shipping companies would each build a road to your house and then only allow their trucks on the road they built!


Thus, when developing a business plan, the community champion should not focus on why, but who, where, what and how much. For most rural communities, there is no scenario that suggests doing nothing is acceptable.  To do nothing simply helps the communities that do take action.


Planning, Purpose and Scope

Depending on the area, rural clients waited 50-75 years for telephone services to be deployed, which delayed the development of local economies, leading to an aggregation of most services within cities, at further expense to rural locations. When telephone services to rural areas finally happened, it was only accomplished with continuous government subsidies for both the implementation and operation ever since, as with electrical power. Even then, many communities had to build their own systems.

So to jump-start the implementation process, a municipality is well advised to quickly develop a go-forward plan with a focus on:

·              The prospective clients (Who and Where), classed by the most likely to connect.

·              The type a system (What) that could meet the need, a design concept.

·              The system cost by a competitive process (How Much).


The rural sustainability dichotomy: To be sustainable, revenue from clients must cover all the operational, maintenance and services costs of the network, but the rural area has a low client count where also the ability to pay is likely to be less


A system build-out plan should be based on prospective client location and needs, including that for future growth. Further, a detailed revenue model will be required to ensure sustainability of planned operations.

Once the plan is complete, the community will have to determine who the banker is, and who will pick up the start-up costs. Since these liabilities are substantial and any payback is likely to be very long term, it’s hard to see any organization, other than the municipality, being able to make a viable, high-quality, rural network happen.

The alternative of course, is to wait. However, while one waits, economic growth going to the equipped urban areas and the rural willing. Further, the wait could be for many years, if the telephone experience is anything to go on.

Rural systems in general, particularly during start-up, will require support funding!!! The government has limited its control over telcos and does not want to fund a subsidized broadband rollout to rural areas. So it is very likely, in a purely competitive model that many of those areas will never get the service they require. Therefore, the viability of a rural system will be low if the community is not involved, so a different approach, from the private business model, is needed.


Ownership and Sustainability

Ownership is a key sustainability issue, from start-up through long-term operations. One can easily accept that low density client base, with long distances between clients, creates a more expensive system while having fewer, and in some cases, less capable clients to pay for them. Without the subsidy system used by telcos to augment revenues of rural telco cost centres, a rural broadband system has a very narrow range of options. In fact, probably no option at all if not supported by the municipality, at least through the implementation and start-up phases.

The following are some human and business nature axioms that need to be considered.

·              Business needs a short-term payback! Privately owned networks must be profitable within a very short period of time. Since the care and feeding of a wireless network is substantial and the client base is low, the prognosis for a profitable private network is very low. There are plenty of examples of failing systems, including some that received government grants to cover capital.

·              ISPs by nature must look after themselves first. To be viable, privately owned networks must be profitable within a very short period of time. Its hard to see how any struggling ISP-owner will allow direct competition by those that only have to pay a small portion of the network operation and maintenance cost, and certainly not through the start-up phase. Thus with a single ISP-owner, the network will not be open, and competition will be compromised.

·              Equipment vendors by nature must look after themselves first. While the third party nature of a system integrator may support an open network status, short-term profitability is still as unlikely, thus network sustainability is still in question. Since vendors sell, the most likely scenario would be sale of the network to other third parties that may not be so open in their operation.


While there are good, dedicated, and community minded, ISPs and Vendors, they still have to make a living, thus even the assumption that a grant of partially free infrastructure will solve their financial problems is highly optimistic.


So with what are we left?

It’s interesting that the only seemingly high performance, thought-to-be-successful networks are community owned either owned by a community’s power utility, a funded non-profit organization, or a subsidized private company such as the telephone company.


Municipal ownership is the only available means to insure a rural network will be supported through start-up to the sustainability phase. This should be reinforced by the fact the community and government agencies will be the initial benefactors.


Use of Existing Assets and Sustainability

In research for development of a broadband plan, many communities look to discovering local assets that may be of use. While this is a perfectly logical thing to do and for political reasons, must be done, the existence of local assets seldom produces cost savings. The reason, use of existing assets only comes with a price tag, such as pole rental fees, and those continuing monthly outlays are an enemy of system sustainability.


Radio Towers:

Space on an existing radio tower usually runs $300-$400 per month. For installation and maintenance, the tower owner will require use of its riggers at prices that are generally higher than competitive sources. The alternative is to build a new tower. Assuming the capital is available, building a new tower can result in a monthly outlay, now for maintenance only, that can be much less than renting. This rental problem becomes much more odious to sustainability when one considers large rural networks with many towers.

Consider a rural wireless distribution system to 10 farms in a 6-8 km circle. A connection fee of $80-$120 per month for a high performance network may be achievable. In reality, this fee would have to cover the system’s plant, equipment and Internet access costs, the ISP’s margins and the network’s operation and maintenance costs (usually charged as a loop fee). The addition of rental on only one distribution tower would add $30-$40 per month per client. A portion of an additional backhaul and tower may add a further $40-$60 per month per client. This higher fee, added to the $50-$60 for actual Internet access would guarantee that many clients would not be able to afford to connect. 


It is very likely that radio tower rental fees of this size would produce services fees that would be too much for all but the biggest clients, sacrificing the revenue model and the community improvement and connectivity objectives, which were rational for the system in the beginning.


Pole Rental:

Installation of fibre-optic cable has much the same ownership issue as with towers, unless the community was to adopt the much more expensive burial route. Installing fibre on poles is quite affordable. In routes of 1000m or so it can be cheaper than wireless. Thus fibre should be the transmission media of choice for small urban areas. However private pole ownership by concerns such as Bell Telephone or Hydro1 in Ontario is likely, and using those assets is anything but straightforward or cheap.

While CRTC mandates sharing of these assets by carriers, this can rarely happen unless there is quid-pro-quo (I’ll let you on my poles if you let me on yours). 

Since most communities do not own a Power, Telco or Cable Company, they are not likely to have poles to share. Some anecdotes from the South Dundas experience:

·              One of the pole lines used to cross part of town contained 3 Hydro1 poles. Even though these poles were slated to be replaced, in keeping with Hydro1’s policy the replacement cost had to be bourn entirely by any new client that needed them, so for the South Dundas fibre project, that was a fee of > $5000 each. The cost for that class of pole in South Dundas normally runs $1200-$1500 installed. So, South Dundas in effect, bought and paid for the poles installed by Hydro1, who still owns them and charges a yearly fee to South Dundas for their use. What’s wrong with this picture?

·              In spring 2002, South Dundas decided to run 1700m of fibre to connect some industrial spaces along County Road 2. Again, a line of 25 Hydro1 poles seemed just the ticket. However, according to Hydro1, these poles were underclass and a fee of approximately $347,000 would correct the problem. That’s almost as much as South Dundas’ entire fibre build of 23 km. Of course, installing the fibre was not included in Hydro1’s price. Several bids were requested to install 25 new poles on the other side of the highway. The highest bid, from Bell’s construction company would do the job for < $25,000, including installing the community’s fibre. Rather than have poles on both sides of the road, the municipality elected to bury the fibre, a higher cost, but in keeping with environmental concerns.

In rural areas where client densities are low and pole counts high, even a pole rental fee of say $10 /pole /year is a significant issue for network sustainability. To deliver a fibre optic service to a community of 5000 in an urban setting may well involve 350 or so poles would cost about $3500 per year. This will be a problem during start-up, but may be manageable as the client base grows. To service the same number of clients in a rural setting may well be 10-20 times greater. For rural residents and farms, the rental cost alone is not sustainable, not to mention the cost of services delivery.


The outcome of pole ownership and policy, even with government owned utilities, is that it will be highly unlikely that any rural community will get the use of poles for fibre installation unless, like in South Dundas, they already own them.


Network Protocols and Sustainability

In building it’s solution, South Dundas discovered another dichotomy: Ethernet is the protocol of choice for business networks, while ATM is for carriers.

After study, including discussions with many network specialists, vendors and stakeholders, South Dundas elected to use the newer Gigabit Ethernet switching and transmission technology for its system due to its superior overall operational cost/performance features. Factors that support this choice include:

·              Highly Scalable. (Easier/Less cost to add ports)

·              Much better Price/Performance ratio. (Much lower operational & per port cost)

·              Seamless integration with existing Client networks. (Same standard, no extra interface cost)

·              Better, cheaper interface options. (10/100/1000 Mbps ports available, standard)

·              Similar, Quality of Service (QoS), VLAN and bandwidth control (needed to support a range of clients and services in rural areas)


By choosing Gigabit Ethernet, South Dundas could capitalize on a wealth of experience within the community at significant savings in start-up and on-going operations. Because the new switching also supported QoS and Rate Shaping, the community can pro-rate services delivery cost across a range of clients, absolutely essential for a sustainable rural system.


This choice is sustained by the industry. A technology investment report done for the CIBC highlighting the implementation, operational and maintainability issues for broadband, in particular, ATM verses GigE switching, for both carrier and network environments, reckoned that ATM was up to 30 times more expensive than GigE to own and operate. Both Ottawa Telecom and Alberta SuperNet have chosen Ethernet as the protocol of choice.


POP Bandwidth and Sustainability

One of the biggest misconceptions is the bandwidth required to adequately service a rural community. Consultants continually suggest a linear aggregation of some perceived need by client, yielding Gbps of requirement, even for small municipalities. A study for the Town of Prescott indicated a start-up need of 155 Mbps (OC-3), to 625 Mbps year 2, followed by a requirement for an astonishing 2400 Mbps the following year.  One only has to review business plans supplied with broadband RFPs to verify this.

However, the South Dundas experience was quite the opposite. While at first of the same opinion as noted above, the estimates provided by those criteria were found to be two to three orders-of-magnitude greater than that physically available, and what was available was the issue of importance. While South Dundas too flirted with having a T3 or OC-3 connection, it quickly got over it notion when pricing was provided. An estimate for an OC-3 connection in the year 2000 was $75,000 per month, well beyond the capacity of the entire eastern Ontario rural community to sustain. The start-up connection for South Dundas was a single digital T1 (1.544 Mbps) connecting with MCI worldwide backbone in Ottawa. While seemingly small, at its operational height, this link moved over 900,000 megabits per month. The message, start with what you can afford that will meet the needs of your economy. That is most certainly not a linear aggregation of individual requirements.

Important Client Sectors

To date, of the reachable commercial and government sectors of all types, the South Dundas system supplies services to clients that include:

·                    Real Estate

·                    Advertising

·                    Retail

·                    Insurance

·                    Manufacturing

·                    Construction and Builders

·                    Transport Trucking

·                    Hotel and Accommodation

·                    Municipal Government

·                    Community Services Offices

·                    Consulting

·                    Fast Food

·                    ISP


After 18 months the level of client penetration in South Dundas, at %14 (the average for all of North America), is a reasonable achievement in itself. What is more remarkable, the WorldCom T1 proved adequate to service all of these clients. At that time, most clients were unaware they were actually sharing a single T1. Part of the answer is due to

·                    The nature of the Internet itself; often the site visited determines the speed of access. The

·                    The current level of development of Internet usage, and

·                    The nature of the network switching used.

IN South Dundas, the access service was distributed amongst the clients, in priority (and bandwidth when usage is high) such that business users who purchase the lower grade-of-service do not hinder higher value users. In this way over-booking of access is minimized.

For the most part, that era in South Dundas exhibited a system harmony that was, for the most part, foreign to many other ISP operations: “no upset users!!!”

During that time there were zero turnovers and, when asked, all clients strongly supported the system.


Selecting an appropriate and affordable Point-of-Presence (POP) bandwidth is a key issue for system sustainability. While in the ISP’s domain, the cost to the ISP, plus its margin, must be bourn by the available clients.  Also the choice of GigE switching maximizes achievable performance


IP Address Ownership and Sustainability

Another important point in network stability is ownership of IP addresses. Since all the IP addressing used belongs to the ISP, a change of ISPs would necessitate changing all the addressing schemes for all clients as well as their remote constituents, including routers and firewalls. Pick the ISP carefully. ISP instability, or a lack of direct client support at start-up could well doom a network.


Lifecycle Support and Sustainability

Another problem with networks, particularly wireless networks, is the issue of equipment compatibility and useful life.

Almost all wireless point-to-multiple-point delivery systems are not compatible to any other manufacturer’s equipment.

Further, transmission equipments, particularly wireless, are often not compatible with versions of the same product, due to upgrades, etc. In other words, the wireless equipment in the customers’ premises (CPE) must be compatible with the base station throughout the system’s life cycle. Any changes to either, will necessitate changes to all. Given a basic technical life expectancy of 5 years or so, and upgrades every 2 years or so, a plan and the ability to sustain operations is paramount.

In general, requirements for a successful rollout of a wireless system are:

·              The sustainable bandwidth delivered to each client must be enough for the entire equipment life period, from start-up to end of life.

·              All the CPE must be purchased early while compatible models are available.

·              Software upgrades will be necessary and should be able to be done remotely.

·              Spares for all radio types will be needed, for the entire system life cycle.

·              The network owner will need a sinking fund, possibly collected from clients, to completely replace all the electronics at end of its useful life.

The compatibility and useful life issues are, in general, applicable to all forms of communication where the supplier’s equipment acts like a ‘base station’ to communicate to user end equipment. The most effected are cable, wireless, and passive optical fibre systems. Telco and direct fibre systems are less affected as these systems have a direct communication path to each client. In these systems only, can the service to a particular client be changed or upgraded with affecting the rest.


In addition to maintainability, other logistics issues, such as usable life, equipment compatibility upgrade-ability, and end-of-life replacement, are key to development of a system that will be sustainable over the long term.



To get the system it needed to fulfill its current and future needs, the Township of South Dundas implemented the following:

·                    A rural community network linking urban-based fibre-optic cable in two of its villages,

·                    Connected by a full duplex broadband wireless bridge, and

·                    Trial wireless distribution with available equipment with the view of creating an integrated township-wide community broadband system to be expanded with wireless to farms.

The network vision involved providing adequate application and Internet services distribution to community, including:

·              Commercial,

·              Industrial,

·              Farms,

·              Municipal-government facilities,

·              Community services centres such as medical, educational, and

·              Residential services.

The community developed a vision, replicate-able for all rural areas, that included a networking infrastructure, still possible to implement today and that was very suitable for the future. This plan included the following basic requirements:

·              An Ethernet network, maintainable with community available resources, that extends out across the township to clients, in this case using a Gigabit Ethernet switches.

·              A high-grade delivery to Commercial and Industrial clients. Fibre-optics in urban areas, a total of 816 fibre strands, 23-24km of cable, or 650 km of glass.

·              A wireless delivery to farming areas. Starting with 3 trial distribution areas with a range of 5-8 km radius. A typical pair base-stations can serve up to 20 clients without over booking. Additional enters are planned for Brinston and Beckstead.

·              Good accessibility. 45 junction boxes, terminating a fibre bundle in the vicinity of government, business and industrial clients  (typical drop distance 50m).

·              A broadband backbone. Urban and rural distribution networks interconnected using 45-Mbps, full duplex, microwave, point-to-point radio, connected to the respective GigE switches by a fibre circuit.

·              A services delivery capability that met government objectives for the time, including 10/100 Mbps fibre delivery in urban areas and 1+ Mbps wireless to farming clients.

·              Open access to all service suppliers that meet community criteria.

·              Use of affordable and maintainable technologies. The South Dundas Community Network was built with all off-the-shelf equipment utilizing local resources and available installers.

The system was purchased and installed for ~ $750k CDN (2000-2001). It was wholly community owned, with an Operation & Maintenance cost of about $10k per month.

Loop fees charged to clients and collected by the service providers offset the O&M cost, with a break-even target of 180 clients, a point when full operational status would be achieved. The South Dundas hook-up and usage fees were set relatively low to encourage a higher connection rate. While only with portions of the system in operation, after two years there were very encouraging results.


The message to government and other municipalities; an affordable and sustainable system is possible with community support; even more so with government help. Although, even with sufficient support, the start-up phase still can last as long as 5 years before self-sufficiency is reached.