Interventions Phase 2: Intervenor 416

Document Name: 2015-134.226799.2519035.Interventions Phase 2(1hzp701!).html

The lack of adequate internet access in rural Nova Scotia has had a significantly negative economic and social impact. Companies who wish to locate in areas outside of the capital region find it next to impossible to do business online. The quality and speed of internet connections are so poor that downloads which should take hours under reasonable conditions actually can take weeks to complete. ****!The Village of Lawrencetown, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, is home to the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS), long a cutting-edge centre of excellence and a leader in the field of geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies. This facility was forced to install its own satellite system to create access the internet which met its needs, as the existing network provided by Bell and/or Eastlink were completely inadequate. Without its own installation, COGS would have failed its training obligations, as well as failed its partnerships with numerous other agencies in geographic research. The Village of Lawrencetown itself, however, did not benefit from that installation, as it was funded by the NS Community College system and was not intended for community use. After years of waiting for improved service, the Village Commission decided that action was required. Many former COGS students and others associated with the school had expressed an interest in locating their companies close to COGS in order to access its tremendous resources and knowledge base. However, because the internet infrastructure was not in place, Lawrencetown lost several businesses which were forced to locate elsewhere in order to operate effectively. In January 2016, the Village Commission announced that it is moving forward with its own internet initiative, bypassing the large telecommunications companies in favour of installing its own equipment. Further details about this project are available in this article: Aliant, Shaw/Eastlink and the other internet service providers have FAILED to provide adequate, equitable internet service to all parts of Nova Scotia. The service they do provide in rural areas is expensive and unreliable. I consider this to be discriminatory. In this day and age of technological advancement and reliance, rural areas need strong internet access just as much, and perhaps even more, than urban areas. It is essential that we as a society find a solution to provide these services to all residential areas in Canada. Perhaps the Village of Lawrencetown model is one that can be emulated in other communities, thereby escaping the stranglehold of the large telecom companies.It is my belief that the telecom companies are reluctant to provide adequate internet service to rural areas because they cannot make enough profit from those installations. The time is long past for internet service to be considered a luxury. Internet service is now a necessity, and the provision of internet service in all residential areas should not be optional any more: it should be obligatory. It is now necessary infrastructure, similar to telephone and electrical service. If any home is connected to a power grid, that same home should be entitled to good internet service. By this, I do not necessarily mean that internet service should be tailored to meet the needs of those users who simply wish to stream videos on Netflix or Youtube, although I'm certain that users of these services would appreciate better access. More to the point, I believe that internet access should be good enough for high-tech companies to locate wherever they want to go, confident that they will be able to operate their businesses as they would in urban areas. From online meeting via Skype to exchanging information via uploading to FTP sites, strong internet service is essential.The attitude towards providing internet services must undergo a fundamental shift. It will take time to build up that infrastructure, but it can be done. The end goal cannot be pure profit, however. The end goal must be to provide all Canadians with the same opportunities, so that we can continue to thrive wherever we live, and to build up our rural communities so that people can consider living and working there rather than deserting them in favour of urban settings with better services. Thank you for your time.