High-speed internet is coming to rural Quebec towns thanks to $290M investment

The federal and provincial governments have teamed up to invest more than $200 million in new tech infrastructure that will bring high-speed internet to 360 rural towns and villages.

Federal, provincial government team up to bring high-speed access to 360 towns and villages

High-speed internet access will be expanded to 360 rural Quebec communities over the next five years. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

It's a partnership that's been in the works for years, and finally the wait for high-speed internet access in 360 rural towns and villages in Quebec is over.

The federal and provincial governments have teamed up with private businesses to bring long-awaited high-speed access to remote regions a cost of $290 million over the next five years.

Ottawa is investing $86.4 million, with Quebec putting in $104.6 million and the telecom companies pitching in an additional $99 million.

The investment should provide high-speed access to 96,000 households and some 10,000 businesses across the province.

It's a move that has the potential to do more than just improve a user's download speed. The lack of high-speed internet service has, in some cases, slowed the economic development of regions where there is a need for a modern communication network.

"This is a huge step, a giant leap in high-speed internet access in the regions and for the Quebec economy," Premier Philippe Couillard said Monday.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard made the announcement in Louiseville, Que., Monday. (Radio-Canada)

High hopes

There's also hope that this move might help attract young people and telecommuters to areas that were previously high-speed dead zones.

"Many people decided not to come make a home here because there was no high-speed internet." said Robert Gauthier, mayor of Saint-Élie-de-Caxton, about 40 kilometres northwest of Trois-Rivières, Que.

"But now, they can seriously think about it. I think we will be able to offer a quality of life and proximity to Quebec City and Montreal so that people can come to live in the region and work and enjoy high-speed internet like anywhere else."

Gauthier added that the new internet access would be a benefit for people who are self-employed or who work remotely.

Unreliable service

In Mont-Tremblant, however, high-speed internet has already arrived and not everyone is pleased with the service.

Erin McCarthy, who works as an artist and freelance instructor, is often frustrated by connectivity issues.

She told CBC that she has had to change her teaching curriculum because the local science centre can't accommodate an online syllabus.

"It's something really important to be bringing to people, but they have to be comprehensive in the way they are doing it," said McCarthy.

The move will still leave approximately 244,000 households in Quebec with slow internet.

With files from Rebecca Martel