Annapolis-based group wants better broadband

Heather Killen
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Rural residents tired of party-line internet service

About 20 people attended the Faux Broadband group meeting in Centrelea on Feb. 20, and the majority of these were small business owners who are negatively impacted by inadequate broadband service.

By Heather Killen

The Spectator

hkillen@annapolisspectator.ca

 

An Annapolis-based group is hoping to drag Nova Scotia’s party-line style broadband into modern times.

Nancy Godfrey, of Centerlea, created the Faux-Broadband Facebook group earlier this year to raise the issue of the inadequate access to broadband in rural Nova Scotia.

Members compare notes about the poor service they receive, joking that the current service is so overloaded that residents have to take turns logging on, comparing it to the old party-line phone system.

This group aims to pressure the province into introducing and maintaining a minimum standard of acceptable service for broadband providers to follow, define internet access as a utility, call for an audit to detail the status of the Broadband for Nova Scotia agreement and verify the quality of service in rural areas.

“Rural areas have a right to the same level of internet service as urban areas. Rural residents pay the exact same bills as city residents but get considerably less for their money,” said Godfrey.

 

Current Options

Current broadband options for rural areas are neither reliable nor high speed, she says. Available services provide “stated” top end speeds of 1.5Mbps, but that is only if there is no one else using the system.

The more people using the service, the slower it becomes. She adds the majority of rural residents receive considerably less than that, in some cases as slow as dial-up speeds, while paying the same rates as non-rural customers.

The Faux-Broadband movement she started in Annapolis is quickly picking up in other areas of the province. Whenever they can, people in rural communities across Nova Scotia are logging on to express their frustration with substandard service in their communities.

While some of the grumbling is centered on poor access to services like Netflix, other concerns are based around economic development, property values, and educational access in rural areas.

 

Thursday Meeting

About 20 people attended the Faux Broadband group meeting in Centrelea on Feb. 20, and the majority of these were small business owners who are negatively impacted by inadequate broadband service.

Whether it’s a local landlord who can’t rent properties due to the lack of internet services there, or home-based businesses hampered by unreliable internet access and slow speeds, the service inadequacies in rural Annapolis are reducing opportunities for economic development and impacting property values, said the group.

Members in other communities have voiced similar complaints online via the group’s Facebook page.  Nena Wagner writes, “We live in Centrelea six months and would love to move full time but being an internet-based business makes it a difficult decision. An upload that takes 10 minutes in Ontario took us nine hours to upload in Nova Scotia.”

Christopher Cooper agrees, “we would dearly love to move our studios from Brantford, Ontario and the UK to Nova Scotia. This so-called high speed is little better than dial-up and frustrates me to no end. If we do decide to move full time (with the studios) we will be sure the choice of location would be dependent on internet access. Therefore it does affect our property value in Centrelea.”

 

Rural Access

Sara Gillis, of Halifax, writes, “My interest in the topic stems from some community work we are doing in rural HRM (Musquodoboit Valley). It was after we started working in that community that we realized there continues to be issues with rural access to broadband in this province.”

Meghan Alvaria voices another problem, accessing the Internet for school work. “If I could spend an hour and a half on a reliable internet connection in the evening, I would not have to be at work at 7 a.m. to upload assignments to virtual school, to plan or to input grades into PowerSchool.”

Similar complaints of poor service were heard from people in East Hants, Two Islands, South Rawdon, and Kings County.  Godfrey says the current rural wireless “broadband” doesn’t meet a current standard for true broadband connectivity.

The system is unreliable, overloaded, under-maintained, and even speed-throttled in some cases, said Godfrey.  Rural customers are paying the same rates as consumers in Halifax, but they receive far less service.

 

Meeting With Premier

The local group is meeting with Premier Stephen McNeil at his constituency office in Middleton on March 4 to discuss these concerns.

For more information on Members and Friends of Faux-Broadband Nova Scotia

http://www.facebook.com/groups/fauxbroadband

Organizations: Faux-Broadband Facebook, Netflix, Faux Broadband

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Centrelea, Annapolis Ontario Halifax UK Musquodoboit Valley East Hants Kings Middleton

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • M. Cochrane
    March 08, 2014 - 20:31

    I, too, am subject to the whims of rural broadband - it's not much faster than dial-up and frequently about the same. There has to be some alternative for those of us who are affected - we certainly pay enough for the miserable and inadequate service that we're getting. Add my name to the list of those who are looking for change and better service!!

  • Imogen Bass
    March 04, 2014 - 09:32

    To call Nova Scotia's rural Internet service third world, would be to insult the third world. One hundred years from now, archaeologists will look on the collapsed, derelict buildings of a depopulated wasteland, and wonder, "who were these people? Where did they go?"

  • Eleanor and Mike Ritchie
    March 03, 2014 - 16:01

    We live on Parker Mountain Road and spend our winters in Florida. Something that I can download in Florida in 10 minutes takes several hours at home in Nova Scotia. I called Eastlink one time to complain about the speed of our internet service and the representative I spoke with said "Oh you've got "rural" high speed internet." Something definitely needs to be done.

  • Heidi & Bruce
    February 28, 2014 - 11:17

    We are very frustrated about the situation. Our Eastlink connection in Albany is not only very slow but intermittent with chronic buffering. Lately the service has been down for hours and sometimes even for days. Complaining doesn't help as they always blame the weather (currently snow, fog or rain). In summer they blame it on the leaves on trees and even suggest customers to cut down trees! In the meantime we all know that the constant buffering and cut-outs are bottlenecks due to overload and too many users. Unfortunately our options out here are very limited. Bell probably wouldn't work well as our cellphone reception is only 1 bar. Xplornet charges a 399 $ activation fee on a 2 year contract or 299 $ on a 3 year contract which we find unacceptable!!!! Eastlink knows that they have the monopoly and that's why they are not bothered to improve anything. According to our government BRNS is being cost shared by the contracted service providers ($41.4 m), together with the provincial ($19.6 m) and federal ($14.5 m) governments which means that a lot of tax payers money went into this poor service and the government should put pressure on the service providers. We already reported this to the provincial government last Summer but never received a reply. Hopefully the upcoming meeting will be more successful.

  • Jeff
    February 22, 2014 - 07:00

    When the Nova Scotia government made a commitment to getting high speed internet to rural areas, they did so by granting money and monopolies to certain local companies. They did this with a blatant disregard for the reality of whether those companies could meet the mandate. In rural Annapolis Royal, the Government of Nova Scotia forces people to use Eastlink. Meanwhile Bell is standing by with faster services ready to go. They are forbidden to sell those services to you. The Government of Nova Scotia caused the low internet speed problem when they created a monopoly. Turning to the Government now to solve the problem now seems a little foolish.

    • Steve
      February 24, 2014 - 08:39

      Jeff, there has been NO monopolies put in place regarding internet. Bell is free to sell you internet just as much as any other company. The only thing stopping them is their own refusal to spend money to upgrade the dial up service they currently offer to rural areas of NS. They have no plans whatsoever to upgrade rural areas, only the bigger towns. No one is forced by government to used Eastlink, Xplorenet, Bell or any of the cellular based internet providers available.

  • Marie & Wayne Sheridan
    February 21, 2014 - 16:45

    We too receive very poor service from our broadband.....we live approx. .10 minute walk from the tower and receive absolutely terrible service.....download is terrible....

    • Nancy Godfrey
      February 21, 2014 - 19:32

      This is precisely the reason the group was formed. Rural customers are being shortchanged and underserved and it needs to stop. Please consider joining the group if you're on Facebook, and tell your friends as well :)

  • Maryln Boudreau
    February 21, 2014 - 12:25

    I had Bell here the other day as I am so slow. He said it was all I would get for what I was paying and told me if I wanted high speed to change to another server and he did suggest one. East Link.