TELUS’ PureFibre wins Telecom Review’s Best Fiber Infrastructure Deployment for North America for its leading connectivity and industry growth.
Ten years ago, Canadian global communications technology company, TELUS accelerated a generational investment into fiber-optic internet that paved the way to completely reimagine how people now live, work and play.
TELUS PureFibre – an advanced broadband technology that enables reliable network connectivity at significantly higher speeds than its copper-based predecessor – was the first of its kind to be deployed across Canada at a large scale.
“We pioneered the widespread implementation and adoption of fiber, setting the standard for world-leading connectivity and fueling the beginning of Canada’s digital economy,” says TELUS’ Chief Operations Officer, Tony Geheran, who leads the team behind PureFibre. “Over the last 10 years TELUS has invested $1 billion annually on connecting Canadians and that commitment remains the cornerstone of our industry-leading customer loyalty and growth.”
Today, TELUS is the only Tier 1 carrier globally that has covered 70 per cent of its operating territory with a fiber network capable of speeds of up to 10Gbps, connecting more than three million homes and businesses across a geographically diverse two-million square kilometer land area. This unrivaled coverage includes enabling some of the most remote, hard-to-reach rural and Indigenous communities with speeds that consistently outperform the overall average of many other countries.
Through TELUS PureFibre, TELUS is keeping millions of people safe, secure and connected at home, enabling best-in-class customer experiences and empowering remarkable industry development, while bridging digital divides and creating a more environmentally-friendly future for generations to come.
Ahead of its time
Traditionally, telcos would lay cable in the streets of a community but only connect to a specific property when a customer signed up for services. A decade ago, when fiber internet was still fairly new, TELUS started laying cable within an entire community, including to each home, regardless of internet provider. This enabled customers to easily transition to PureFibre and meant no additional work was required by technicians – significantly reducing time-to-market and enhancing market penetration.
A testament to its trailblazing strategy, TELUS saw an unprecedented 40 per cent uptake in its fiber offering after year one and 50 per cent after year two, and in some small communities adoption rates even exceeded an impressive 70 per cent. Bringing broadband network choice to these communities gave customers an alternative to cable company coaxial broadband, who overwhelmingly expressed their preference for the superior performance of TELUS PureFibre.
TELUS successfully evolved industry trends, fundamentally changing the way fiber is deployed and adopted, however the successful rollout of TELUS PureFibre can also be attributed to the company's unique, community-first marketing strategy.
TELUS started small, helping rural areas embrace fiber as an opportunity to drive economic growth, improve public services and progress in environmental sustainability. It led grassroots engagement programs to truly understand the needs of community members and meet them in meaningful and personalized ways. This included award-winning innovations in experiential marketing, where a "home of the future" was brought to each neighborhood to showcase future technologies and lifestyles made possible by fiber-connected homes.
TELUS designed and perfected a model to educate potential customers and offer bundle deals while team members were already building PureFibre within a community.
“Seen as a risky decision by the capital market in 2013, our investment in PureFibre has now grown to become the largest 100 per cent fiber-to-the-premise network in Western Canada,” says Geheran.
A culture of curiosity
Many aspects of how TELUS conducts business today can be traced back to its fiber deployment program.
Effectively creating a company within a company, the program ran outside TELUS’ traditional business units and reported directly to an executive steering committee, including the CEO. Supported by transparent decision making and systematic planning and execution, the program team fostered a culture of experimentation, fast failure and continuous improvement.
“It’s easy to wait for more data, clarity or certainty, but outside of the most extreme situations the tuition value gained from simply starting often results in a better outcome in a shorter time frame,” explains Geheran.
Exemplifying this courage to innovate, TELUS reimagined how it worked with suppliers, moving away from transactional relationships to a more holistic partnership model focused on long-term value, which helped ensure build continuity and stability. When companies faced short supply during COVID, TELUS’ build program continued.
With return on investment achieved within just seven build communities, the program also set new expectations in terms of what best-in-class capital management and governance means, which have been incorporated into emerging growth areas, including TELUS Health and TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods.
On top of supporting industries like agriculture for a more sustainable future, TELUS PureFibre is Canada’s most sustainable internet technology, making strides to advance environmental stewardship for a healthier planet.
The switch to PureFibre, which is up to 85 per cent more energy efficient than copper, has helped TELUS reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6,000 tons since 2019, which is equivalent to taking roughly 1,400 fossil fuel-powered vehicles off Canadian roads.
Fiber minimizes the need for new copper installations, thereby reducing demand for copper mining and its associated impacts of habitat destruction, water pollution and high carbon emissions. Enabled by the upgrade to PureFibre, TELUS has recycled and repurposed millions of pounds of copper since 2013, bolstering a circular economy that promotes resource conservation and less waste.
"Environmental responsibility and progress in connectivity can go hand in hand,” says Geheran. “At TELUS, we recognize that a friendly future for all is built on a foundation of sustainable business practices.”
In 2023, nearly 600,000 customers migrated from copper-based networks to fiber services – moving the dial forward on the company’s goal to have net carbon neutral operations by 2030.
Driven by social purpose
Guided by TELUS’ social purpose, the expansion of PureFibre supports hundreds of thousands of Canadians who face unequal connectivity.
The unrivaled coverage of TELUS PureFibre is bridging the digital divide in remote and hard-to-reach areas, providing essential connectivity in 105 Indigenous communities and 248 Indigenous lands, including reserves, treaty lands and self-governing lands.
By enabling traditionally underserved areas with outperforming speeds, TELUS is creating a more equitable and inclusive digital landscape that creates the best outcomes for public safety, healthcare and economic prosperity.
Through its various Mobility for Good programs, TELUS provides young people in care with mobile devices and data plans to support their transition into the workplace as well as devices and plans for Indigenous women at risk of violence. Meanwhile its Internet for Good program provides subsidized broadband and access to PC and device hardware to help in-need families, low-income seniors, people with disabilities and youth aging out of care participate in the digital economy.
Increased access to the highest quality internet also fosters extraordinary levels of innovation, productivity and development across various industries – making way for businesses to address some of society’s most pressing issues.
TELUS now supports optimal mental, physical and financial health for 68 million people globally through TELUS Health. Leveraging its PureFibre network to do business, it maintains secure and reliable medical record platforms and provides stable connectivity to tele-health physicians that rely on video conferencing to consult with patients.
Through TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods, the company solves for inefficiencies in the way foods are produced, distributed and consumed. PureFibre has enabled 2.38 million IoT connected devices across industries that monitor a variety of data points like soil conditions, alarms and fleet management.
“We’re ensuring no one gets left behind in the digital age, providing the highest-quality internet for work, education, entertainment and beyond,” explains Geheran.
It’s just the beginning
The scale of TELUS’ investment in fiber isn't just significant relative to the size of the Canadian population, it’s propelling the company’s evolution into a purpose-led global technology powerhouse.
“We will continue to build our fiber footprint in rural, remote and new growth markets,” Geheran shares, “reaching an expected one million additional premises in the next five years and laying the foundation for previously impossible advancements in technology.”
The scalability of fiber, relative to copper, is pivotal in supporting ever-changing societal demands. And as TELUS looks ahead, the technology is molding the future of security, healthcare, home automation and smart cities – all while working in synergy with advancements in 5G and paving a path for an even more connected Canada.