Let’s be honest, an update on our Rural Internet Project is overdue.
The reason for the delay in updating our progress has been because we have experienced some delays.
But there are many positives happening with the project that I think need to be spoken about and hopefully, it will give you the reassurance that we are doing everything in our power to bring you high-speed internet.
This project has been six years in the making, but the first few years were about design, available infrastructure such as poles and determining how much fibre we would need, etc. Then in early 2020, we thankfully received a little over $4 million from the federal government which allowed us to ramp up the wireless portion of the project, so we started working on tower sites, public consultations and purchasing land and towers.
The pandemic slowed everything down considerably. Our staff is not building the internet. We have contracted companies that specialize in this field to do the work, and they were experiencing their own restrictions due to shutdowns and shipping/supply issues.
But now we are in 2022 and we have seen progress in the last year. Fourteen towers for our wireless project are expected to be ready for service by end of September or mid-October. Some will be ready before this depending on when they are finished.
Approved tower sites so far are Eureka, River John (Mountain Road), Baileys Brook, Hardwood Hill, Poplar Hill, Blue Mountain, East River, Eden Lake, Green Hill, Sunnybrae, Mt Thom, Willowdale, McLellan’s Mountain and Meiklefield. We are currently working on land approvals for other tower sites on Pictou Island and Caribou Island.
When your area is ready for wireless service, you will receive a letter in the mail from the municipality with details about how to connect. We expect the service to cost $50 a month with no signup fees or contract. The speed you receive will be determined by a few factors including, how close you are to the tower and if you are surrounded by trees or hills. The signal from the tower is line of site so if there is something obstructing that line, your signal will be weaker.
We are also making fibre available to about two-thirds of the homes in rural Pictou County. This is a bit more of a complicated process. There has been a lot of mapping and design work done until this point, and now we are happy to say we are ready to soon connect about 250 people in the Lyons Brook area with an additional 200 homes in the Central West River area this fall. Work will continue to move from area to area and when you are eligible for service, you will receive a letter from the municipality with instructions on how to sign up online.
Getting fibre installed to your home is currently a two-step process. The crews installing the fibre on the poles will make an appointment with you to connect the fibre and terminal to your home. After this is done, you will be given contact information for one of the internet service providers leasing our equipment to finish the service.
There are three internet service providers who are signing contracts with us now and we are in talks with three more. When your area is serviceable, you will be able to go online and see which internet service providers are available to you and can contact them about what packages or offers they have available to customers. It is highly recommended that when you receive your notice in the mail letting you know you can make an appointment to have the fibre and terminal installed in your home, you do so while crews are in the area as there will be no installation fee. There is no obligation to subscribe to the internet service even if the fibre and terminal are installed. If you have existing contracts or need time to evaluate the services being offered, the fibre will stay in your home so it will be there when you are ready to be connected.
The cost of our fibre service will be determined by the internet service provider you choose. The good news is that we will have a few available for you to pick from; each provider will be offering different packages. We are operating an open access network which means any internet service provider can lease our equipment to provide you with service. We believe this creates competition and better pricing for customers.
Our goal is to have most homes in rural Pictou County that are eligible for fibre be serviced by end of 2023 or early 2024, but much of this depends on how quickly permits can be processed by the companies that own the poles.
For every pole that needs fibre, there is a permit submitted to the company that owns it. Before the permit can be approved, the pole must be inspected and work such as replacing footings, doing tree clearing or replacing the pole will have to be done before we can touch it. As you can imagine this is a long and laborious process and unfortunately our project is one of many projects for these companies.
I hope this provided some clarity about what has been happening with our project. Continue to watch this website for updates as we will be posting here when we have more news to share.
The Municipality of Pictou County.