History

Coquitlam began running ducting throughout the City in the 1980s for the traffic signal system, later taking advantage of this underground network to install carrier-grade fibre optic cabling to support traffic cameras and telecommunications services in City facilities.

By 2003, the City had 45 kilometres of telecom ductwork and fibre optic cables that – despite its use for City services – still had a significant amount of untapped capacity.

After a feasibility study and vigorous testing of the business case, the Coquitlam Optical Network Corporation (QNet) was incorporated on November 12, 2008 and Coquitlam became the first municipality in Canada to lease out its unused fibre optic capacity to competitive telecom service providers.

The City provided a $5-million 20-year loan to cover startup costs, with the expectation that QNet would:

  • Be a future source of non-tax revenue,
  • Reduce City telecom costs,
  • Generate economic development opportunities, and
  • Provide businesses and residents in highrises with greater choice and lower-cost access to high-speed internet services.

The City has saved approximately $360,000 per year on telecom costs since QNet was launched.

Achievements:

  • QNet is Canada’s first and only open access municipal fibre optic leasing utility, which means it leases fibre to private telecom companies rather than being a service provider itself.
  • Coquitlam’s fibre optic network now stretches 60 kilometres in length and covers most of the community with close to 50 private buildings connected.
  • In addition to the original datacentre at City Hall, a state-of-the-art co-location facility was built at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex in 2010 for the sole purpose of leasing space for telecommunications equipment. Within two years, all available spaces were leased (other than space reserved for new fibre-lease customers and telecom service providers).
  • Two datacentre hosting companies moved their operations to Coquitlam in 2013 to take advantage of QNet.
  • By 2013, eight telecommunications companies were operating in Coquitlam (including TELUS and Shaw).
  • QNet was cash-positive as of 2013 and began repaying its start-up loan to the City.

Today, more than 2,500 businesses and 20,000 homes in residential highrises have access to competitive telecom services through QNet.