MTS president Kelvin Shepherd was in Thompson on April 19 to attend an event at the Wireless Solutions MTS Connect store to commemorate the arrival of the company's fibre-to-the-home network and Ultimate TV service in the community.
Thompson is one of the first five communities in the province to be upgraded to the fibre-to-the-home network, along with Selkirk, Steinbach, The Pas and Dauphin, says Shepherd, with one of the benefits being Internet service speeds about four times as fast as MTS's current Internet service, which averages about seven megabits per second (Mbps), with the potential for future speeds as fast as 100 MBps. The new technology, says the MTS president is "one of the most advanced broadband services in the world."
"We started construction of this service last summer," Shepherd told the Thompson Citizen on April 16. "We're not quite done the construction phase. We will be working on that over the next few months."
Mayor Tim Johnston said he was happy to see the service arrive and looked forward to construction wrapping up.
"Residents will now know why over the last year they've been driving around the manholes and things like that," said Johnston. "It's not just the potholes."
The MTS FiON Network is part of the company's $125 million investment over five years to bring leading technology to more than 20 communities in Manitoba, the company said in a press release.
"The big attraction for many people will be the new TV service," Shepherd said, noting that it offers more than 200 channels, including more than 100 in high definition, as well as the option f a whole-home personal video recorder, which allows customers to watch recorded shows on any TV in their home with an MTS set-top box. MTS has offered TV service in Winnipeg since 2003 and launched the Ultimate TV service in Portage la Prairie in 2009. "It's been a very popular service in our other locations."
The service first became available in Thompson in March and Shepherd says local consumers have been eager to try out Ultimate TV.
"We've got a number of people that have already signed up and have the service working," he said, estimating that there were about 80 active customers and 90 awaiting installation. "It seems to be going quite well in the early going."
One of those customers, Shirley Lafreniere of Thompson, was randomly selected by MTS to represent their 100,000th customer in the province, a threshold the company recently reached, and received one year of free MTS TV.
"It's a wonderful surprise," said Lafreniere, who signed up for MTS Ultimate TV in March, in an MTS news release. "I've been enjoying MTS Ultimate TV since the service was made available here in Thompson. It's great to have another service provider to choose from and the quality and features of MTS's Ultimate TV service are fantastic. One year of free service is going to make my TV viewing even better!"
Another Thompson resident at the event won a 40 inch LED HD Samsung TV.
Homes are not hooked up to the fibre optic network until residents sign up for the new services, Shepherd says.
"We basically run them by people's homes," he said.
Approximately 1,627 homes in Thompson are currently eligible for fibre connection and MTS's Ultimate TV service, according to the company.
In anticipation of demand for the new TV service, MTS has added four new employees in Thompson to assist with installation and support.
Johnston presented Shepherd with a certificate of appreciation from the City of Thompson to the company for making the new network a reality, saying it was a sign the company had faith in the future of Thompson. He also doled out praise to Vince Shumka, the owner of Wireless Solutions.
" I truly do appreciate your role as an entrepreneur in our community and the investment you've made," said the mayor.