International expansion for FarrPoint with new Canadian subsidiary - FarrPoint
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International expansion for FarrPoint with new Canadian subsidiary

CANADA

International expansion for FarrPoint with new Canadian subsidiary

We are extremely excited to announce the launch of our first overseas office with the creation of FarrPoint Inc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of FarrPoint, to address the Canadian market.

From rural broadband projects in the Scottish Highlands to rural Canada

We have long believed that the work we do across the UK on digital connectivity, from rural broadband projects in the most challenging environments such as the Scottish Highlands & Islands (technically, environmentally and commercially), through to more urban projects to drive full fibre and now 5G, is something that should be replicable in other geographies. Many other countries face the same challenges and we have learnt a lot over the years about what works and the pitfalls that can be avoided with the experience we have built up.

Canada has been of interest to us for a while now; it has challenging geographies, connectivity that requires development, and is a stunning environment in which to work! After a period of research and some fact-finding missions to meet with various layers of government at both federal and provincial levels, we confirmed our thoughts that this is a market we should address.

Some interesting headline comparisons between the countries below:

Canada

UK

Pop (m)

37.5

67.7

Pop density (/km2)

4

279

Households (m)

15.4

27.6

% fibre connected

35%

8%

% Superfast (UK: 30Mbps; Canada: 50Mbps)

84%

95%

% Cell coverage (population at least one 4G operator)

99%

99%

50 Mbps broadband £/m

£45

£35

LTE cell plan/m

£20(5Gb data)

£20(60Gb data)

This shows the real challenge of rural population in Canada, which is of course a vast landscape with predominantly a ribbon of population along the US border, with the remainder of the population sparsely spread. As such satellite comms has played a larger role in remote Canada than it has in the UK and there is significant interest in forthcoming Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite solutions to serve some of the northern geographies.

Fibre coverage is much better overall than the UK; in many areas it’s delivered over poles rather than dug which lowers cost and improves coverage. This example is in small town Nova Scotia (1,000 pop); clearly more heavily loaded poles than we’re used to in the UK, but it gets fibre delivered.

Although the extent of fibre is quite impressive even in some rural areas, there remains some big challenges in driving services further into unserved areas where commercial operators won’t go. This is the case for both fixed and cellular services and in recognition, the Federal Government has launched a programme to help close the digital divide. This gives an objective that: “Canadian residential and business fixed broadband Internet access service subscribers should be able to access speeds of at least 50Mbps download and 10Mbps upload, and to subscribe to a service offering with an unlimited data allowance.” A broadband fund of $750m over 5 years has been established to fund projects to build or upgrade access and transport infrastructure for fixed and mobile wireless broadband to achieve the universal service objective, in order to close the gap in connectivity in underserved areas.

Given our experience in the UK, we believe more funding will likely be needed, and this programme will roll for some time as demand for connectivity continues to increase beyond the capabilities of some of the technical solutions that may be put in place.

We are really excited about the opportunities to get involved in the Canadian market, both in terms of driving out connectivity and also with the smart places agenda where our experience in IoT and 5G related projects are also directly relevant to Canadian cities and towns. We are already actively bidding for projects and look forward to building business and delivering successful FarrPoint projects in this fantastic country!

Read our latest blog: Rural Broadband: How Does Canada compare to the UK in Approaches to Addressing the Digital Divide? - FarrPoint

For more information on our Canadian activities, please contact [email protected]

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Connectivity is important. It drives business and society, bringing communities and commerce together. That's why we use our insight and experience to connect people and business.