Government now pledging high-speed internet for all Islanders by 2023
Last 3-5% of households will be challenging to connect, says MacKay
Some challenging areas have been identified, but P.E.I. Economic Development Minister Matt MacKay is now saying all Islanders will have access to high speed internet that meets CRTC goals by 2023.
MacKay was responding to questions from Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker in the legislature Thursday.
Previously, the P.E.I. government had not committed past 95-per-cent connectivity, because the last three to five per cent of households will be hard to reach.
The province has contracts with Xplornet and Bell to bring wireless and fibre internet services to the Island. On Wednesday, MacKay had said there was a clear path for coverage for virtually everyone, but the last few Islanders would be a bigger challenge.
Bevan-Baker asked for clarification.
"Are you saying that all rural Islanders will receive true high-speed, broadband internet service by 2023?" he asked during question period.
"That's the plan," said MacKay.
"After we rolled out the original contract with Bell and Xplornet, we knew there was still a three-per-cent to five-per-cent gap. We went right to work right away to see what we could do to provide high speed internet to [those] areas."
Report coming soon
The province is expecting a consultant's report within the next month that will identify the problem areas, which span across the Island. They include houses and businesses in the most remote locations, or places where they don't have a line of sight to a tower to access wireless internet.
MacKay noted Xplornet has now set up eight new towers: in Summerside, Borden-Carleton, Cornwall, Irishtown, Belfast, Urbainville, Ellerslie and Georgetown.
Internet should be available from those towers by the end of May.
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With files from Kerry Campbell