How residents are stepping in to boost 'pathetically slow' internet

The Resort Municipality of Stanley Bridge, Hope River, Bayview, Cavendish and North Rustico asked residents and business help fund better internet services. It's a community-pay model that government is encouraging.

Residents and businesses chip in to help pay for better service

Seawood Estates resident John Boyne paid $500 to improve internet service in his subdivision in Stanley Bridge. (Laura Meader/CBC)

After many frustrating years, some residents and businesses in the Cavendish area expect to finally have better internet service after coming together to find, and fund, a solution.

Many in the Seawood Estates area of Stanley Bridge, P.E.I., have paid a one-time fee — $500 for residents, $2,000 for businesses — to help cover part of the $252,000 cost for improved infrastructure including wires and poles for speedier internet.

"I like the approach that we get buy-in from the residents and the community," said Matthew Jelley, Mayor of the Resort Municipality. 

The Resort Municipality of Stanley Bridge, Hope River, Bayview, Cavendish and North Rustico also contributed money, as did provincial and federal governments and the successful bidder, Eastlink.   

The Resort Municipality looked for requests for proposals from telecommunications companies and chose Eastlink's offer. 

'We knew we had to do something'

Resident John Boyne said he gladly paid for the new service, noting it was frustrating not being able to load files or send attachments with emails. 

Seawood Estates is the largest residential subdivision in the Resort Municipality. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"It was pathetically slow," Boyne said.

His adult children need to be connected when they visit the cottage, he said, and he also likes having high speed. 

"We maybe didn't have as many residents, maybe it was a little further from the nearest connecting point to get hooked in — so we knew we had to do something to up our game," Boyne said. 

A partnership involving community residents and businesses makes sense to Boyne. 

North Rustico Area next

The Resort Municipality is now looking at the same approach in the North Rustico area, and has held preliminary meetings with residents. 

'We knew we had to do something to up our game,' says Boyne. (Laura Meader/CBC )

"We're looking at the eastern sector of the community next," Jelley said.

"It's a similar story — poor service, inconsistent service and the chance to really make a leap to really benefit both residents and businesses," he said. 

Some areas have no problems but Jelley said many do have low speeds. He said improving internet speeds is one of the main issues for the area council. 

"I think it's important for communities to step up and get involved and talk to their residents, and talk to the funding partners, communication companies and make this happen," Jelley said.

'This is a huge problem'

The province is looking at proposals from several other communities too. 

'I think it's important for communities to step up and get involved,' says Resort Municipality Mayor Matthew Jelley. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"If they want to go to their community and reach out to us, maybe we can help put some of those pieces in play," said Chris Palmer, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. 

The province ran speed tests last year, and said there are problem areas. Palmer said government is working with internet companies to improve services.

"This is a huge problem, because we know how important internet is to everyday life and to operation of a business," Palmer said. 

Palmer says many internet companies have improved their infrastructure . But he said the province is looking to identify gaps. 

Officials said an announcement is coming which will involve government money and more infrastructure, beginning this fall. 

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Laura Meader is a video journalist for CBC P.E.I.