Man laying cable on the beach

Coming this Spring: Cortesians choose their Internet provider

Sometime this spring, possibly as early as March, Cortes Island residents will get to choose their internet provider.

After building Twincomm up to the company islanders recognize today, on June 28, 2021, former General Manager Dino Tsakonas left to join CityWest

In an interview at that time, he told Cortes Currents that this came about as a result of the Connected Coast project, which will bring reliable high speed internet to Cortes Island. CityWest partnered with the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) to become the local provider.

Photo of Dino Tsakonas taken from Twincomm press release of June 28, 2021

“I was heavily involved with that because I was trying to get more fibre optiks so we can better serve our Twincomm customers. What happened is that project continued, and they got the grants. We were trying to work out a deal last fall between Twincomm and CityWest. That fell through and then CityWest just offered me a job. I decided it was my best interest to switch teams.”

“After that, I got them both back at the table to make some type of deal.   Now we’re in negotiations to see if CityWest can purchase Twincomm. That way it’s a smooth transition, but it’s very entirely possible that both the CEOs decide not to make a deal, that’s  out of my hands now, but I brought them both back to the table.” 

Twincomm’s much anticipated deal with CityWest never occurred. Instead, on June 30, 2022, TELUS acquired Twincomm ‘as part of its Mascon by TELUS brand.’

Colleen Dragseth, who has beenTwincomm’s General Manager since Tsakona’s departure, emailed Cortes Currents that the migration to Mascon by TELUS will occur later in 2023.

“At this time, Twincomm will not be providing an interview. Please feel free to contact us again in the spring. Once we have more information regarding our transition to Mascon by Telus, customers will be contacted. ”

We do not know what Twincomm will look like after it becomes part of Mascon by Telus. Colleen and Debbie Dragseth, Lyle Brulhart, Jason Thompson, Dave Blinzinger and Liesa van Rossem have been working there for years. Will they still be in the new Mascon by TELUS team? Twincomm’s infrastructure may improve. Mascon by TELUS is offering download speeds of up to 120 Mbps, and upload speeds up to 12.5 Mbps up on Quadra Island

Dragseth emailed a description of four of Twincomm’s current service speed plans. They all have upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps but the download speeds range from ‘up to 8’ to ‘up to 30 Mbps,’ depending on what people are willing to pay. 

Cortes Currents uses the Standard Plus plan and in 6 out of 7 recent speed tests was clocked at +16 down/+6 up. My low score was 15.32/6.54. That is still better than the 15/5 advertised for this plan. 

Dragseth explained, “We allow slightly more if the network capacity allows it.”

Tsakonas said, “You get 16 MBps? That’s half of what our lowest speed is.

We offer up to 1,000 Mbps. You can get it for $138 a month.” 

My mouth was probably hanging open at that point. Aside from the wait periods when uploading or downloading large files, my needs have pretty well been met by 16 Mbps. What would someone do with 1,000 MBps? – And Tsakonas was talking upload as well as download speeds! 

Dino Tsakonas: “We’re talking about people that are uploading all the time, like someone who works with huge CAD programs. We’re in a position today where some people just want things to move faster. They want to like click, click, they walk away, and it’s done.”

Cortes Currents: I’m looking at the two plans you recommended. The least expensive was 30 Mbps down and 30 Mbps upload.  

Dino Tsakonas: “That’s $68 a month.” 

Cortes Currents: Will it consistently deliver 30 megabits per second?  

Dino Tsakonas: “That’s definitely the intention. Of course, especially seeing as we can offer 1,000 Mbps, we would be pretty hard pressed not to deliver 30 Mbps.”

Cortes Currents: You’re recommending 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload for $88.

I’m thinking of the capacity problems we have on the internet right now. Most of the time I would say it works well, but there are times when it doesn’t. There are times when you’re watching a movie, it stops and a symbol just circles for a while. There’s times when you can’t upload, but most of the time you can.

Dino Tsakonas: “When you’re looking at fibre optics and the speeds that we’re offering with CityWest, you’re not going to see that at all.”

Cortes Currents: Where is this happening right now? I’m interested in working models that are getting reliable speeds of over a hundred megabits per second.

Dino Tsakonas: “It’s already working in Terrace, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Vander Hoof.  There’s a bunch of places that it’s already working.  If you really want to do research, just look up City West and you’ll be able to see it.”

Cortes Currents: Are any of these places experiencing problems? 

Dino Tsakonas: “With any type of service, you’re going to experience some type of issue. Most of it’s weather dependent. There was a huge snowstorm that just happened up in Prince Rupert and all kinds of communications went down. It is the nature of the business, just like BC Hydro or anything else. Your power goes out because you have a huge snowstorm, or you have a landslide  or someone runs into a telephone pole or what have you.” 

Cortes Currents checked the outage page at CityWest and found that, as a result of heavy snowfall, certain homes and businesses in Prince Rupert had been deprived of power for the last three days.

This would not have been a problem on Cortes because CityWest’s lines are underground.

Dino Tsakonas: “Correct, here it’s all underground, but up north they are on the poles somewhere. When you talk about being able to transit from, say, Prince Rupert right to Vancouver, they’re utilizing existing infrastructure that is run by Telus  or Shaw or BC Hydro or whoever. Some of that is going to be obviously  on telephone poles. If there’s a huge landslide or what-have-you and they take out a bunch of telephone poles, they’re going to experience some downtime.” 

Cortes Currents: I was looking through some of our old interviews and I see at one point you were hoping to have it by December. What happened?  

Dino Tsakonas: “Well, look at our terrain, Roy. Even your house, Just to get to your house is  a hike that I don’t want to even make. You look at the terrain of Cortes  and you reach a lot of challenges when  get to these remote places”.  

“Considering all of the challenges we’ve had, I think we’re doing great.  We’re going to139 communities up and down the coast.”

“We’re creating the biggest undersea fibre optic network that’s local, in the world. We’re really being very close to the targets we’re trying to meet.  It’s a huge project, so let’s be proud about that.” 

“We’re going to go live this spring for Seaford, Squirrel Cove and Mansons. Take advantage of the two months free internet. People need to be signed up now. When you get that phone call from a city west representative, whether it’s me or whether it’s someone else,  make that next step and you sign up so you can get that two months free.  Take advantage of those fibre optics and, you’re going to be super surprised but also super happy with the service that we provide.”

Top photo credit: Top photo credit: Bringing the cable ashore on a sandy beach– courtesy Connected Coast

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