600 on N.S. broadband waiting list
The government of Nova Scotia says it is close to providing high-speed, broadband internet service to any customer in the province who wants it.
Ian Thompson, deputy minister of Economic and Rural Development, told a legislature committee on Wednesday that there's now a waiting list of just 600 customers who've asked for the service.
He also said that the province is going to stay within its $19.5-million budget to help two telecom companies build a wireless network that can reach every residence or business in a province of rolling hills and deep valleys.
The project, which started in 2007, had originally aimed for completion by the end of 2009, but Thompson said that deadline was too ambitious due to the terrain and unexpected technical glitches.
The program started by the previous Progressive Conservative government uses a network of towers and repeater poles to reach rural locations everywhere in the province.
Thompson said the federal government budgeted $14.5 million to help create the network, while private telecom firms Seaside and EastLink had budgeted $41 million.
Nancy Flam, the director of the broadband project, said that the customers without service are scattered throughout the province.
"It could be somebody with a steel roof or living behind a mountain," she said. "In a number of instances they have to get power to the repeater poles, and there's a long lineup for that."
Flam said so long as the residence or business has access to power, the province will help fund the telecom companies to provide high-speed access.
She said the steel roof obstacle can be overcome by building a repeater pole close to the residence and then running a cable from the pole into the building.
A company that received $1 million from the Nova Scotia government to provide internet service to parts of the Halifax region recently filed for bankruptcy.
Omniglobe Networks Inc. of Montreal had a contract to provide service to 1,300 civic addresses.
The province has said there were some service disruptions following the bankruptcy filing.
Parker Donham, the director of communications for Seaside, said that a firm controlled by the owners of Seaside has purchased the Nova Scotia assets of Omniglobe.
"We look forward to working with the province to assure continuity of service for those customers," said Donham.
"I understand some of them (the customers) have lost service and we'd like to resolve it quickly."