Nova Scotia

Small company fears bankruptcy after losing internet contract to Bell Aliant

Acadian Communications submitted a bid in the second round of bidding for qualified suppliers, but lost to Bell Aliant. Its owner fears the province's choice will bankrupt his small company.

'There's a point in the not too far future where I think we could go under,' says Acadian Communications

Acadian Communications was a bidder in the second round for qualified suppliers, but lost to Bell Aliant.  (John Robertson/CBC)

A small Nova Scotia-based company is upset about losing a provincial government contract to deliver high-speed internet, saying the loss could force it out of business.

Acadian Communications of Chéticamp lost to Bell Aliant in the second round of bidding for qualified suppliers to provide high-speed internet service.

It missed the first round of bidding due to a change in company ownership. Bell Aliant was among the successful bidders in that round and is working on providing service in the Chéticamp area.

Andrew LeBlanc, owner of Acadian Communications, said his company is already preparing to lose customers. 

"As Bell comes in and steals away customers, there's a point in the not too far future where I think we could go under," he said.

Acadian Communications provides internet for around 800 customers and employs four people, including LeBlanc. He said if business drops to just 200 or 300 customers, the company won't be profitable anymore. 

Smaller companies losing out

LeBlanc said they offered a lower bid and asked for a 40 per cent subsidy from the province, while Bell Aliant asked for a 50 per cent subsidy.

"They're going to cover the maximum amount of houses which is great for themselves and great for Nova Scotia residents, but for myself and several other companies across the province it's not good at all," said LeBlanc.

The second round of bidding went entirely to Bell Aliant. The company will provide high-speed internet for another 32,000 homes and businesses. The provincial government is providing $59 million for the project.

"In effect, the provincial government is funding the biggest telecommunication company to bankrupt our company," said LeBlanc. "Something with that just doesn't sit right."

Develop Nova Scotia responds

A spokesperson for Bell Aliant declined to comment and told CBC News to direct any questions about the contract to Develop Nova Scotia.

Deborah Page, communications director at Develop Nova Scotia, said in an email Bell Aliant was awarded the contract based on many factors, including timeline, quality and price.

She said in the first round of bidding, Nova Scotia-based companies Seaside Communications, Mainland Telecom and Cross Country won three out of the five contracts.

Bell Aliant's Chéticamp project is already underway and is planned to be finished by spring 2021.

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