The Newfoundland town where internet speeds go to die
Family in New-Wes-Valley says their internet speeds, price aren't worth the high cost
A New-Wes-Valley man says his internet speeds have slowed and his bills have jumped since he moved from St. John's to rural Newfoundland — and he calls his Bell Aliant service "a rip-off."
"That's the only way I can state it," said Sandy Stokes. "If you're like me, and you're into this type of thing, don't move to New-Wes-Valley."
If you're like me … don't move to New-Wes-Valley.- Sandy Stokes
Stokes and his wife are paying more than $85 each month for Bell Aliant service with a download speed of 7 megabits per second.
That's only 5 per cent as fast as speeds widely available in St. John's and neighbouring communities in Bonavista Bay. Bell Aliant offers fibre service with a download-and-upload speed of 150 megabits per second for an introductory price of $69 a month.
"You can't do two or three things at once with this internet," Stokes said. "I mean, when you search our speeds … Google tells us that we can't even operate two devices at once in our house!"
Pushing back on slow speeds
Stokes organized a Facebook group for New-Wes-Valley residents in an effort to tell his neighbours that their service isn't up to par.
He's also called Bell Aliant to ask when his community will see upgrades, and its competitors to urge them to start offering better service in New-Wes-Valley.
Rogers does not offer traditional home internet services in the community, but Stokes says Xplornet has recently started offering packages.
On top of the $85 monthly fee for his Bell Aliant line, Stokes also pays for a Bell Mobility internet hub and extra data on his family's cell phone plans. In all, he estimates he spends $300 monthly for internet access.
Bell Aliant has told him it has no plans for upgrades in his town.
"Service pricing can vary by location and services available," the company said in a statement.
"Advanced broadband networks are very costly to build out and operate and the required investment can be difficult to justify in smaller or more sparsely populated areas such as New-Wes-Valley. We have no current plans for extensive upgrades in the area but we do take customer feedback like this into account when planning future network investment."
Big impact for the family
At the Stokes family house, a four-minute YouTube video — like the videos that Stokes has started to film with his daughter, Allie — can take more than an hour to upload.
It's more than Allie's YouTube career at risk — Bryttyne Stokes, Allie's mom, has had to rethink her plans for long-distance education.
"I was going to do it at home. It was a lot easier because we have a daughter and the closest thing to us for CNA is Gander," she said. "I could do it while she was in school."
But to get a connection dependable enough for her course work, she would have to travel about 30 kilometres — so she's ditched her plans, and has found a job in the community.
Sandy Stokes says Bell Aliant should upgrade his service, or at least give his family a discount on the price they are paying.
"Rural Newfoundland is disconnected enough, this connects us to the world," he said. "This was a very big factor with me moving out here."