Cross Country TV and Clearcable Networks Connect Annapolis Valley
December 16, 2016
Steve Scott has lived in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley all his life. No surprise that the owner of Cross Country TV Limited, a provider of broadband internet, digital cable, and telephone service had one thing in mind when he took over the company 33 years ago.
“I’ve always said that because I live right here in the community, it kind of takes my commitment to another level,” said Scott, who is married to Linda, another lifetime Nova Scotian.
“My goal is to see people get better service and do it in such a way that we are all successful. It’s worked so far and it’s been pretty cool to see the technology evolve over the years.”
That technology gave Scott’s company a chance to connect with the customers in the Annapolis Valley, mostly on the north side, King’s County, an area about 25-30 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide. Despite the geographical challenges, Cross Country connects with subscribers through unmatched broadband access over fibre and cable.
Today, Cross Country boasts 10 employees, 2,500 customers, 500 wireless clients (true rural broadband), hundreds of fibre subscribers, internet customers, and phone subscribers.
“I’m very happy with the system we have,” said Scott, who left Acadia University in 1983 to run Cross Country.
“Our success would not have been the same if it wasn’t for the additional help of Clearcable. Rob and Ryan McCann, who lead the Clearcable teams, have been helping me out for years.”
Scott met Rob McCann in 2002 when McCann spent several days in the Annapolis Valley installing a CMTS to launch the DOCSIS (Data Over Cable System Interface Specification) Internet system. That was the start of a partnership and personal relationship that flourishes today.
“Steve was one of the first customers to put his trust in us,” remembers Rob, who was named Supplier of the Year by the Canadian Independent Telecommunications Association (CITA) in 2016. “One of the interesting things with Steve’s situation is that we really have a complete integration of operations from flow-through provisioning to operational support. Steve’s team puts details into the billing system and that sends information to the systems we have installed which turn customer services on and off.”
Scott still marvels at the job Clearcable did on the wireless system. Rob and Ryan remain passionate and personal supporters of rural broadband.
“The Nova Scotia government’s Rural Broadband initiative is important to us because the current (federal and provincial) governments are making investments to connect all Canadians,” said Rob. “The challenge we see in rural markets is population density. In other words we have to run more fibre, more wires, to be able to service a smaller percentage of people than we could in an urban centre.”
“It’s very capital-intensive to build, and difficult to get a return because there are not a lot of people,” Rob said. “In markets like the Annapolis Valley you also see challenges with geography. Part of Steve’s system is on the top of the Annapolis Valley and some of it is on the bottom of the Valley. You need to service people who live all over the territory.”
Clearcable sees this kind of project as the next wave of deployment. The federal, provincial, and Municipal governments have set 100 per cent broadband coverage in Nova Scotia as a common goal.
“So we almost have a grassroots movement,” Rob said. “We want to be there for those types of deployments and we want to pick the right technology to contain the costs while still delivering the same level of service.”
That’s what happened when Scott decided it was time to bring fibre to King’s County homes in 2010. He worked with Clearcable to consider different vendors. In the end, Scott selected Calix Networks, a US company who at that time had positioned itself to serve the rural market and has proven themselves a global market leader.
In 2015, Cross Country rolled out its phone service with the help of Clearcable.
“Clearcable gives us great advice,” said Scott. “You couldn’t have hired that type of assistance for what we are being charged. We have a long term relationship and the cost to have Clearcable as a partner is more than reasonable.”
Clearcable recently joined the Intelligent Community Forum Canada, which is part of worldwide think tank with a membership of over 160 cities around the globe and 30 other communities in Canada. Its mission is to help communities use information and communications technology (ICT) to create inclusive prosperity, to tackle social and governance challenges, and to enrich the resident’s quality of life. Rob McCann is on the board of ICF Canada.
Clearcable is helping build Intelligent Community networks across the continent. The rural broadband initiative is a perfect example.
“Just look at how we care for our seniors,” Rob said. “We want them to be able to communicate with their doctor and their hospital from their homes. Rural broadband can also play a role in education. If we have sufficient broadband in rural communities, students can participate in classes anywhere in the country and learn and improve their situation. That’s why rural broadband is so important to us.”
McCann added that 45 per cent of the Clearcable client base is in small rural markets.
“In the Tier 2 market, it’s usually a local person, a local business person, someone in the market, who has decided that they need to service their neighbours, so they start to grow and thrive and build services out to the community.”
Sounds a lot like Steve Scott and Cross Country TV Limited in the Annapolis Valley, a true pioneer in community broadband and an active promoter of better connectivity for all Canadians!