GRAND BANK, N.L.— Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews has been a longtime advocate for increased broadband services on the Burin Peninsula.
“The Town (of Grand Bank) has made representation to Bell Aliant, I would say going back four or five years to link us up into the fibre optic world,” Matthews said. “We haven’t been successful to date and there is no indication to council that we’re going to be successful anytime in the near future.”
A recent project by Alcatel Submarine Networks will see fibre optic service made available to the French Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, with cable running from transmission stations on the Burin Peninsula located in Fortune and Allan’s Island.
Matthews said it is time internet services on the Burin Peninsula catch up to those offered in other areas of the province.
“It has been too long,” he said. “We’re being left behind in the technology world and we’re not going to survive —our schools, our businesses, our health care centres and everything else, you’ve got to have good fibre optics and we haven’t got it.”
Matthews added that currently, residents of Grand Bank are able to access high-speed through Bell Alliant, but he believes better service could be offered to the area.
“They have so-called high-speed internet here,” said Matthews. “That’s 4-5mbs. Like come on, that’s about 20 years ago, that’s what we pay for here in Grand Bank.”
The Mayor said it is time for service providers to reconsider their definition of high-speed.
“It’s certainly not high-speed, it’s low-speed,” he said.
The project to run fibre optics to St. Pierre and Miquelon — with cable running from transmission stations on the Burin Peninsula — is almost complete, according to Alcatel Submarine Networks representative Didier Savouroux.
“The project consists of a (series) of submarine cables to link St. Pierre to Lamaline, St. Pierre to Miquelon and Miquelon to Fortune,” he explained in an e-mail. “Three submarine segments have been deployed (or (are) currently being deployed at the time where I’m writing.”
He added that there is no land-based link between Fortune and Lamaline.
“No need to use existing highway to link the two communities,” he said.
Savouroux explained that the aim of the project is to offer the opportunity for both French archipelagos and the Burin Peninsula to access a very high bandwidth for the economic development of the area.
“Several telecom operators (like Bell Alliant, Eastlink) could ask for the access to this very high-speed link to provide a large portfolio of services to their clients,” he explained.
No future plans
Isabelle Boulet, media relations with Bell said in an e-mail to The Southern Gazette, that fibre optic infrastructure is not in place on the Burin Peninsula.
“Bell is the biggest investor in communications infrastructure throughout the Atlantic region,” she wrote. “We continue to roll out enhanced services in Newfoundland and Labrador but do not have any immediate announcements about expansion of our fibre network on the Burin Peninsula.”
In response to a follow up e-mail asking if another company had infrastructure on the Burin Peninsula that Bell could tap into to provide fibre opt to residents, would they explore that option, Boulet wrote, “We have in the past worked together with communities and government to expand service availability.”
She continued, “Bell is always open to discuss funding partnerships with all levels of government to expand and enhance our networks in rural and remote areas that are unable to support additional private investment alone.”