Houston quizzes government over rural internet timetable
Pictou East MLA Tim Houston grilled Stephen McNeil’s Liberals over when local residents can expect to see faster rural internet.
Speaking in legislature Tuesday, Houston said that Pictou County was one of Nova Scotia’s “top two greatest needs,” for rural broadband, just months after the province employed Brightstar Canada to map out rural internet and identify gaps in service in the spring.
“We understand that there’s a lot of work to do. So, the money that we have allocated for broadband, $14.5 million, the hundreds of millions that’s going to be allocated through the federal program, that will certainly do a lot to leverage the municipal projects that we have across the province,” replied Minister of Business Geoff MacLellan.
According to MacLellan, Brightstar has carried out “significant work,” for the province with regarding the ‘middle mile’.
The middle mile is an internet cable ‘freeway’ backbone including ‘off-ramps’ from a main fibreoptic network from which service providers can carry internet to more remote regions.
The final stretch of cable connecting smaller communities to the main fibre-optic backbone is the ‘last mile’.
MacLellan said that Nova Scotia is “really punching above its weight in terms of commitment to the broadband issue.”
“There certainly is a focal point around Pictou and a few specific areas in the province and we’re going to count on Brightstar to give us that information,” said MacLellan.
The minister added that the final phase of the Brightstar report would likely be completed by mid-fall.
He added that broadband internet plans were ongoing even as the province will spend newlyallocated funds on upgrading infrastructure.
“We’ve got to get that money on the ground as soon as possible so that we connect more and more Nova Scotians with every dollar that we invest,” said MacLellan.
Nova Scotians in Pictou and other rural areas have long complained that poor internet hampers the economy, as local businesses cannot perform essential transactions of partake in webcast meetings, for example.