A group of Murillo-area residents is petitioning for high-speed internet service.

People on Mud Lake Road say they can't understand why Tbaytel provides access to some homes but not others. And although it's a rural area, it's just 20 km from Thunder Bay, where high speed internet is widely available.

Tricia Taggart and neighbour Sabrina Ree started the petition after repeatedly asking Tbaytel for high-speed internet.

"We want to know why [people] around us in this section of Murillo have it and ... why we can't have it."

Tricia Taggart and Sabrina Ree

Tricia Taggart and Sabrina Ree have started a petition asking Tbaytel to bring high-speed internet access to all neighbours in the Mud Lake area. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Homes on a 1.5 km stretch of Mud Lake Road aren't getting equal treatment by Tbaytel, Taggart said. Only two homes have high-speed internet access, while the other 13 don't.

"My neighbour just down the road just moved in, built a brand new house, and they got access.”

Not having high-speed internet has been frustrating for Taggart’s family.

"My daughter is starting in college, [and] we can't access any online courses. Even my son taking his boating license ... we have to ... go to the city library to use the computers,” she said.

Taggart added that they have to pay to use the computers in the library, because they live in Murillo and are not Thunder Bay taxpayers. 

Geographic, financial callenges

Sabrina Ree said she is having the same issue.

"I think it's quite ridiculous, you know.  My employment depends on having high-speed internet,” she said.

“I do work out of my home. And it's very frustrating."

Tbaytel spokesperson Katie Crowe said Mud Lake Road is one of a few rural areas with gaps in high-speed coverage.

“We do understand the frustration of customers who can't receive what has now become a very necessary service,” she said.

Crowe noted the high-speed technology doesn't work in a straight line, so one home may get access while another can't.   

A couple of homes in the area have used signal boosters, Crowe added, but that technology has been discontinued. Tbaytel doesn't provide support for the boosters or recommend them because of reliability issues, she said.  

While Tbaytel is committed to filling gaps in rural areas, Crowe said it will take some time to do so, as there are both geographic and financial challenges. 

When the federal government provided funding through the Broadband Canada program in 2011-2012, Tbaytel brought high-speed internet to some of its rural areas

"We are, as with many providers across Canada, in a position where we require support from the federal government in order to roll out these services to low-density population areas,” she said.

As of Tuesday, the residents of nine out of 13 homes had signed Taggart and Ree's petition. The rest, they said, weren't home when they went door-to-door. 

Crowe told CBC News that Tbaytel is communicating directly with the customers and will provide them with more information to explain the internet situation on Mud Lake Road.