Pretending to be a big-city airport got Telegraph Creek's Internet users connected to the World Wide Web via British Columbia's Provincial Learning Network, PLNet.
Dan Pakula, a river guide in Telegraph Creek, a remote village in north west B.C.'s Bulkley Valley-Stikine, credits Rainer Giannelia with coming up with the idea that got his hamlet's 18 Internet users online.
Rainer, who runs Kermode Applied Research and Development and Kermode.net out of Terrace, was attending a conference where he saw a new radio-based communications system. "Lucent Technologies was developing this wireless system for use in airports... and so we thought Telegraph Creek is a small hamlet, no different really from a large airport without walls."
Lucent Technology supplied the equipment on a one-year trial basis and flew up some technical help. The equipment worked fine, connecting Telegraph Creek's Internet users to the World Wide Web via the PLNet link in the village's school.
PLNet is the B.C. government's six-year $123 million initiative to provide Internet access to every public school, college and institute in B.C., as well as a number of museums, libraries and community centres. The network is designed to give all B.C. students and teachers access to the ideas and information on the World Wide Web. By taking high speed Internet access to communities that previously were without, it also ensures that all British Columbians, regardless of where they live, can participate in e-commerce and share in the opportunities of high technology.
Rainer says a wireless system makes sense in Telegraph Creek. The construction was much more expensive up front than a telephone-based system, but he projected that the costs of running the wireless system will decrease once the equipment is paid for.
Dan is looking at ways for the Internet society to increase its number of subscribers from 18 to at least 24. He would like to install an antenna on a forestry tower - and by so doing, push the 'net out to at least six more users.
Residents and visitors to Telegraph Creek can access the Internet at terminals in the local school or at Dan's café, the Stikine River Song.
In June 2003, another giant step was made when a communication shelter/antenna array was built on Blueberry Mountain.