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Bell CEO’s Lakeside Cottage with High-Speed Internet Causes Digital Divide Debate

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According to CBC News, Bell CEO Mirko Bibic’s high-speed internet connected lakeside cottage, in Sainte-Marie, Quebec, is causing a digital divide debate.

On the southern side of Pemichangan Lake, about 120 kilometres north of Gatineau, roughly 100 cottages and homes have Bell Fibe high-speed internet—including Bibic’s.

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But other homes in the neighbouring area and Lac-Sainte-Marie do not, resulting in a digital divide exacerbated due to COVID-19 and people working from home.

Chantal Lamarche, from MRC de la Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, said all residents need to be “treated equally, speaking to CBC News.

“The owners of residences that live here all year round should receive the same level of service as those who own a million-dollar cottage,” added Lamarche. “Everyone deserves an equitable treatment.”

According to Bell’s director of government relations, Charles Gosselin, says the company’s CEO was not involved in having his cottage or the area connected to high-speed broadband.

“I can guarantee that our rollout is in no way influenced by anyone’s presence or absence. Bell is a serious company that decides on its investments based on factors of cost effectiveness and viability,” he said.

Gosselin clarified, “Mirko Bibic’s presence in the Outaouais region has nothing to do with our project in Pemichangan Lake or [elsewhere]. There is no link.”

According to Bell, high-speed broadband made its way to Bibic’s cottage in January 2020 and was “far from the first to have access to high-speed internet in the area or the Outaouais, and it won’t be the last,” said the Bell director. Bibic was named Bell CEO in January 2020.

While the digital divide remains in Sainte-Marie, some residents are also hoping for Elon Musk’s low-Earth orbit Starlink satellite internet to fill the void.

Other residents in Muskoka, Ontario, for example, have recently applauded Starlink as their high-speed internet saviours, compared to traditional ISPs such as Xplornet.

Anyone can sign up for Starlink internet and its beta program here.

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