By Jim Brown
Slow, slower, slowest. The speeds at which a junkball pitcher without a good fastball throws to fool a batter.
It also describes the frustration many residents in rural PEI feel about their so-called “high speed” internet.
Stanley Bridge and North Granville residents packed the North Granville Community Centre on Sept 19th to hear proposals to improve internet service.
Among the five or so proposals discussed at the meeting, led by area resident Wayne Carew, the cost would range from $500 to $1,000 per household, which would paid off within a year through savings.
Not exactly small change.
Areas included in the proposals for upgrading included much of the Rattenbury Road, Ward Lane, Taylor Road, Judson Lane, Kellie Lane, Gary’s Lane and Maple Ridge Road.
The Province is offering to cost share new internet service with providers such as Bell Aliant and Eastlink, with residents contributing towards the cost. It is believed the Province will cover up to half the cost, but there is no firm commitment.
Carew and government representatives wanted to gauge the level of interest, to see if there is enough to hold a second meeting. Apparently there was.
Cutting and trimming trees to put in new lines is expensive, residents were told.
It can cost approximately $35,000 per kilometre to install distribution fibre or cable. Poles in rural areas are often spaced far apart, which adds to the cost.
As for those who wanted the lines installed underground, that likely wasn’t going to happen since the cost would be several fold more costly than above ground lines.
The federal government is getting into the high speed internet game in a big way – committing as much as $750 million for internet improvement over the next few years, with PEI expected to get about $23 million.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will likely get involved with internet upgrading across the Island.
“The only reason we are all here is because we are not satisfied with our internet service,” said Carew.
“It’s not time to get up and raise our individual beefs…The fact is we have to take some initiative on our own and determine whether or not we want this to happen,” he said.
Carew warned residents who are considering waiting for governments to take action to boost high speed internet access could be waiting a long time.
Carew said he and his wife had lived in the area for 15 years “and it hasn’t happened. So again I think we have to take a little bit of responsibility onto our own shoulders.”
Caption: It was almost an overflow crowd at the North Granville Community Centre to hear proposals for improving high speed internet access in the Stanley Bridge area. Jim Brown photo.