PEI

Tired of slow internet, P.E.I. community takes action

The community of Miltonvale Park has put out a request for proposals for the construction of the infrastructure required to improve the area's internet access.

'This is the thing that the people want and this is what we're going to try and get for them'

Slow internet speeds in Miltonvale Park caused problems for Alex MacDonald when she was trying to give a presentation on financial literacy to a group of seniors. (Sarah MacMIllan/CBC)

The community of Miltonvale Park has put out a request for proposals for the construction of the infrastructure required to improve the area's quality and speed of internet.

Hal Parker, chair of Miltonvale Park Community Council, says though there are some parts of the 36-square-kilometre community that have high-speed internet service, others are left behind.

"We'd like to have a hard wired service … we'll roll it out in stages if that's what has to happen in order to get good service to everyone," Parker said.

"I'm seven and a half kilometres from the border of a capital city, and I'm getting one to 1.5 [megabytes per second], I kind of say to myself, is there something wrong with this picture?"

He said the aim for the proposals is to have speeds up to about 50 megabits per second (mbps) for downloads and 10 mbps for uploads, and he knows residents are all for it.

"When we did a survey a couple of years ago of our community … over 90 per cent of the people, that was their primary concern, was poor internet service and they wanted better."

Unpleasantly surprised

Alex MacDonald, an education and outreach specialist for Family Service PEI, was in Miltonvale Park to do a presentation about financial literacy to a group of seniors on Friday.

She was unable to access videos online for her presentation because of the slow speeds in the area.

"When we got here we thought we'd be able to set up, but unfortunately the internet is just too slow so we won't be able to do our presentation the way we planned today," MacDonald said.

Hal Parker, chair of Miltonvale Park Community Council, says he hopes the provincial and federal governments will do more to support better internet for rural areas. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

MacDonald wasn't expecting the problem, and didn't recall any experiences like it.

"I haven't had issues quite this bad before."

"I was a pretty surprised, I was maybe a little naive to think that wifi was distributed equally across the Island but this really was an unfortunate eye opener to just how bad it is in some communities."

'Try something innovative'

Parker said he knows the province has taken some action on the problem of internet speeds in rural parts of the Island, but it hasn't helped him.

"I think in the past they've put a fair bit of money into this, but I haven't seen any improvement in my service. Maybe it's time to go away from the old-school companies and try something innovative."

The province says it is working on "the high level design for the fibre backbone project."

Parker said the community doesn't have the same needs as others and is willing to spend to fix this problem.

"We don't need to build sidewalks and infrastructure like that because it's a rural community. This is the thing that the people want and this is what we're going to try and get for them."

With files from Sarah MacMillan

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