Hous­ton quizzes govern­ment over ru­ral in­ter­net timetable

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY FRAM DINSHAW

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.

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