Nearly a year ago, the federal government announced Prince Edward Island (PEI) would be getting faster rural internet and 5G wireless technology, but details about the roll out from Bell and Xplornet have been slim.
Coming up to one year on the announcement, P.E.I. has now outlined what this high speed internet roll out will entail.
According to CBC News, Economic Growth Minister Matthew MacKay says the plan will see islanders get much faster and more stable internet for rural residents.
The province has a website where residents will be able to check the progress of the rural internet rollout by entering their address.
As for construction, Bell will start in Tignish and Rollo Bay beginning in late June, with a goal to complete the work there in one year’s time. Provincial officials called the timeline “very aggressive.”
While the provincial government hopes Bell and Xplornet will finish the roll out within three years, the signed agreement with the company gives them up to five years to complete the internet roll out.
“We’re in a position now, with the contracts that we’ve done, that we’re going to be able to hold these companies to account and Islanders will be getting high-speed internet in the near future,” said MacKay to reporters.
“It’s the number one call I get. Islanders are frustrated that they don’t have high-speed internet. We’ve got rural businesses trying to operate a business and they are having trouble doing it,” he added.
While roughly 55,000 homes and business have existing high speed internet through Bell and Eastlink, nearly 30,000 address still do not have internet or have speeds which meet CRTC benchmarks, at 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload.
For those living in remote areas, about 3 percent of Islanders, the province says these 2,500 civic address still will not be connected.
Opposition Leader Peter Bevan-Baker said, “We’ve had a number of iterations of this over the years where promises have been made that this is the solution, we’re finally going to get high-speed internet for all Islanders, and, of course, it’s fallen short, sometimes dramatically.”
Bevan-Baker said he will “reserve my celebrations” until the new connections go online.
With the federal government paying half the cost of the internet program at $33 million, P.E.I. will be paying $3.5 million. Bell and Xplornet will be contributing $37 million for the high speed internet roll out.
Ottawa said last year, “funding will only be disbursed to Bell Canada and Xplornet as performance and construction based milestones are met, and this will be closely monitored by the province.”