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97 per cent of Nova Scotians will be able to access high-speed internet by fall 2022

Nova Scotia announces plans to bring reliable high-speed internet to most of the province. Develop Nova Scotia

As we isolate ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s revealed just how reliant we are on having access to high-speed internet to keep up with our daily routines.

From at-home learning to accessing e-health or doing business or just keeping in touch with friends, if you don’t have reliable internet it’s hard to take part in the online experience.

Read more: Coronavirus has exacerbated the issue of internet access in rural Maritime communities

That’s why Premier Stephen McNeil thanked Nova Scotians Tuesday at a high-speed internet announcement in the rural town of Mount Uniake, where the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust was allocating another $59 million to increasing internet connectivity across the province.

“Thanks for your patience, we understand the importance of this,” said McNeil, who announced the details of the phase two plan to deliver high-speed internet to an additional 32,000 homes and businesses across the province by Fall 2022.

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The announcement means that 97 percent of Nova Scotians will be equipped to receive high-speed internet which for many has become an essential service, especially during the pandemic.

“People want to live in Nova Scotia and they want to live in rural parts of our province and in order for them to be able to do that we need to be able to ensure this service is available for them to tap into, it’s absolutely critical,” said McNeil.

“This announcement really is about the future…and economic future.”

Develop Nova Scotia’s president and CEO Jennifer Angel understands just how urgent it is to expand internet access to all Nova Scotians, calling the project one of the most important developments the group has ever undertaken.

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“When we are thinking about enabling economic participation and enabling a high quality of life and enabling economic development, access to the internet is crucial,” said Angel.

In all, the government has invested $193 million into the internet expansion project with $59 million going into the final phase. That contribution is met by $61 million in funding from other public sectors like municipal governments and several other private sector contributions.

Since the first round of internet expansion works was announced back in February, 18,000 homes and businesses now have the network capabilities in place said the premier and this next phase is urgent.

“It is vital to families and friends to stay connected as part of a wider community, especially when connecting in person is not possible,” said McNeil.

“We’ve seen that over the past few months, the impacts of COVID-19 has only undermined the importance of high-speed internet.”

Shanna Joudrey runs an event and design business from her home in Branch LaHave and has been advocating for better internet service for over five years. COVID-19 has forced much of her business online and the shoddy internet service she’s currently using has caused her much stress and left her considering a move from her rural home.

Read more: The New Reality: Nova Scotia students, parents left wondering what September will bring

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The announcement today is welcomed but she’s not holding her breath that her internet service will improve anytime soon.

“I’ll believe it when I actually see something done, to be honest with you,” said Joudrey. “There’s talk about something being done in our neighbourhood but I’m trying not to get too excited about it.”

Work on phase one continues with a target of bringing 42,000 customers on board with high-speed internet by the end fo 2021.

When phase two is complete, it’s anticipated 97 per cent of Nova Scotians will have access to quick and reliable internet service.

 

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