Seaside in the news
2009-12-15 -Antigonish Casket - Broadband delays
by Corey LeBlanc
Like many parts of rural Nova Scotia, the wait continues for high-speed Internet access for some residents of Antigonish County.
Last week, the provincial economic and rural development minister Ian Thompson said during a legislative committee the province-wide wireless project will not meet its completion deadline of the end of 2009.
If that’s the case, thousands of Nova Scotians will still have to use dial-up service at the beginning of 2010.
“So far, so good,” Seaside Wireless Communications director of communications Adam Conter said Tuesday morning about the progress in providing wireless service to Antigonish County.
Conter added the “entire project is delayed for various reasons.”
“We continue to work hard to meet our commitment,” he said.
The provincial Conservative government under former premier Rodney MacDonald announced the plan to furnish all of Nova Scotia with wireless access by the end of 2009.
The breakdown of the $74.5-million initiative included a $19.6 million commitment by Nova Scotia taxpayers. The federal government chipped in $14.5 million, while the private companies agreed to fund the remainder.
As part of the Broadband for Rural Nova Scotia initiative provider Seaside High-Speed has launched service to more than 65 communities in north-eastern Nova Scotia, with the bulk of the locales in Antigonish County.
Seaside has the responsibility of providing service to almost half – 48 percent – of rural Nova Scotia.
Conter said 60 percent of the targeted areas in the municipality have had service available to them since five or six months ago.
“Since then, the effort has continued to build up those areas to 60, 70 and 80 percent,” he added.
Conter said five new towers have been erected in the Ohio and Lochaber areas over the past two months. He added a temporary structure has been replaced in the Frankville area, while an additional one has been installed.
“We have five more new structures that are in the permitting process.
“We also have two sites we are still investigating for structures,” Conter added.
When these steps in the process are completed, Conter said Antigonish County will have 93 percent coverage.
Even with the erection of towers in particular parts of the county, Conter said “signal holes” remain a challenge.
“Because of the topography, there are areas that remain without service.
“It is frustrating,” Conter added.
As the coverage area expands, the company will have to identify the “signal holes.” Repeater poles will be installed in those areas to help rectify the situation and deliver the signal to those areas.
“They are the particularly challenging areas,” Conter said.
Sharon Bryson is familiar with those service gaps. Although there are towers and high speed access in neighbouring communities such as Fairmont and Georgeville, she and most of her neighbours on Old Maryvale Road remain on the outside looking in.
“We have been frustrated for a long time,” she said.
Bryson and other residents on the county road have fought for high speed service for years, including penning several petitions for provincial governments of the day.
Although Seaside has provided updates when we have requested them, they have not given specific timelines.
“We have had several chats. They have been approachable, but we also do not have many answers,” Bryson said.
When asked if residents are being “patient” with the process, Bryson said it is more a matter of understanding there is not much else they can do other than wait.
“We understand the topography they are dealing with in some areas,” Bryson said.
Bryson added one major difference with Seaside has been its commitment to try to expand to their part of the county, which was not the case with other providers over the years.
Municipality of the County of Antigonish District 1 councillor Mary MacLellan said a “large number” of residents in her area have contacted the company regarding the lack of development.
“They are disappointed and disillusioned with the lack of progress, considering that the contract signed by Seaside clearly promised high-speed to every rural Nova Scotia by [the end of] 2009.”
MacLellan added residents of the Georgeville area along Highway 337 without service have also put together a petition calling for the service as soon as possible.
“People have been waiting for high-speed for a long time, so there is a great deal of frustration,” MacLellan added.
Even with the delays, Conter reiterated his company’s commitment to the project. He added the company understands people are frustrated.
“We will continue our work to get high speed to everyone who wants high speed,” he said.
Seaside High-Speed can be reached at:
Phone: 1 888 965 5511
Fax: 1 902 539 3224
c/o Customer Service
325 Vulcan Avenue
Sydney, Nova Scotia