Aliant met high-speed deadline, says minister
While about 1,000 P.E.I. homes are still waiting for high-speed internet, Innovation Minister Allan Campbell says Bell Aliant met a year-end deadline to complete its network.
Aliant and the provincial government announced last year everyone from one tip of the Island to the other would be able to hook up to high-speed by the end of December. At a public meeting Tuesday night Crapaud, about 120 people gathered to ask why they were still on dial up.
Campbell told CBC News Wednesday technically the December deadline was met, because the infrastructure is in place.
"As of today, Aliant has identified that they now can access every home in P.E.I.," he said.
"We've gone from 23,000 homes to 1,000 or less, and Aliant has committed that by the end of the first quarter this year they'll have those hooked up as well."
The fact so many people want to hook up to Bell Aliant's broadband network is probably one of the factors behind the delay, he said.
Another 8 weeks, says Aliant
A representative of Bell Aliant told the meeting in Crapaud Tuesday they had met the deadline.
The network is complete, vice president Bruce Howatt told the crowd, but it could be another eight weeks before all customers receive a connection.
Chris Ortenburger, a local resident at the meeting, said people are frustrated at how long it is taking to get straight answers from Bell Aliant.
"I think we're one of the last areas to find out whether or not we're going to get service through DSL or through a wireless service," said Ortenburger.
"A lot of people have spent a huge amount of time on the phone with kind of well-meaning but not very informed front staff at Aliant over the past several years, and I think they were really just looking for a straight answer."
Howatt admitted the company did have some trouble getting systems in place, but said it is trying to clear up the confusion and have an accurate, consistent message delivered by staff.
"We were very busy getting a lot of work done to complete the network and get everyone connected. We did have some growing pains on getting all of our systems and processes in place," he said.
"We're now confident we have that completed and we're getting customers connected as quickly as we can."
Howatt said the company can hook about 50 customers a day up to the internet. That means connections should be completed by the end of March at the latest.
He also said the company has an enhanced version of its turbo stick wireless connection for those who are not getting DSL connections.