PEI·PEI Votes

NDP promises high-speed internet for rural P.E.I.

The NDP on P.E.I. is promising high-speed internet access across the province if it forms the next government.

NDP also pledges to include tax incentives for small businesses to start up in rural communities

NDP Leader Joe Byrne says broadband is a public service that should be controlled by government. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

The NDP on P.E.I. is promising high-speed internet access across the province if it forms the next government.

Leader Joe Byrne said despite years of government announcements and commitments, rural Islanders still don't have consistent high-speed internet access from tip to tip.

Byrne said an NDP government would provide Island-wide fibre broadband at national standards to the more than 80 communities identified by Industry Canada as eligible for expansion of backbone.

"Broadband and the backbone is actually a public service so that should be controlled by government, by the public. And then the connections off the backbone should be delivered by the private sector… lots of good internet service providers that can provide that," he said.

'Essential to economic development'

"But the construction and control of the backbone needs to be part of the public because it's so essential to economic development, to community development, and particularly to rural P.E.I."

The NDP also pledged to include tax incentives for small businesses to start up in rural communities, and basing management offices of new public services in outlying communities.

Before the provincial election was called, the Liberal P.E.I. and federal governments announced they invest in broadband infrastructure that will bring high-speed internet to more rural parts of P.E.I.

They said the project would deliver high-speed internet to almost 30,000 residents through a combination of fibre and fixed wireless technologies.

Byrne said he would need to see the details of that contract, but said his plan would focus on expanding the market.

"We need more competition in market and the province," he said.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Natalia Goodwin

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