Nova Scotia

High-speed internet coming to Eskasoni First Nation

Eskasoni First Nation has announced they're starting a new telecommunications company, which will provide residents with faster internet. Both the federal and provincial governments are providing funding for the project.

Eskasoni Communications plans to begin fibre optics installations in December

Loran Tweedie and Chief Leroy Denny sign a partnership between Eskasoni Communications and Seaside Communications in June 2020. (Brent Kelloway/CBC)

Eskasoni First Nation has announced they are starting their own telecommunications company.

The new company, Eskasoni Communications, will provide high-speed fibre optic internet to the community.

This announcement comes after the federal government announced they would provide $2.5 million in funding for the project. The Nova Scotia government also committed $835,275.

Chief Leroy Denny made the announcement in front of a small group of residents, band council members and Seaside Communications employees.

"Our people were paying lots of money on so-called ultra-speed internet and it didn't do any good," said Denny. "We felt our people were being ripped off."

New partnership

Seaside Communications will partner with Eskasoni Communications to install the fibre optics and then install it into the 1,200 homes in the community. 

Eskasoni Communications will hire two technicians to do the maintenance work on the internet and both will be from the First Nations community.

The project has been in the works for the past five years and the band council has made many trips and calls to Ottawa and Halifax to try and get it completed. Denny said Eskasoni is a fast-growing community and wants to provide the technological means for their youth to start businesses.

"It's just education purposes for young entrepreneurs and for emergency services," said Denny, noting the community has had to rely heavily on the internet during the pandemic. 

The telecommunications company will also provide cable and telephone. Denny said they are going to try to make it as affordable as possible for their residents.

'I can't wait to get it'

The announcement was welcome news for Blake Bernard, a resident of Eskasoni. He's been asking the chief for a long time when the internet would be improving in the area.

"Feels better to have faster internet, I can't wait to get it because I have to use hotspot almost every day," said Bernard.

Bernard said their internet is usually running around 2 megabits per second and they will soon see a big difference with the fibre optics that runs at 1 gigabit per second.

"We could probably stream and download at the same time," said Bernard.

Technological work is being completed now and they plan to start installing the fibre optics in homes by the start of December.