Out of range

Kevin Curley
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Writer frustrated Bonaventure won't get Broadband Icenet Wireless manager can't confirm installation date for other communities

Last month, the provincial government announced it would be expanding broadband coverage to an additional 5,086 households in 102 Newfoundland Communities.

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While this came as great news to those whose communities made the cut, being left out created a further source of more frustration for those whose communities not named.

Desmond Walsh, a playwright, screenwriter and poet from New Bonaventure, says he can't function without broadband Internet and was very disappointed to learn that Trouty and New and old Bonaventure would not be getting the service.

"Well, they keep making these announcements, whoever is writing them from the department, says 99 per cent coverage. But that's not the case and we certainly don't have it here. We don't have Internet and we don't have a road," says Walsh.

Internet access goes up to the Dunfield hill and ends with the cable line. Beyond that, says Walsh, people have to purchase their own satellite Internet system, which is more costly.

"There is dial-up, but it's absolutely useless, if a squirrel pissed on a line it would knock you off. Any kind of atmospheric pressure or mist would cause it not to work," he says.

Walsh wonders what kind of disadvantage the schoolchildren of Trouty and New and Old Bonaventure are at.

"When everybody else can just fire up the Internet and Google something and get information, these kids can't do that. They don't have access," says Walsh.

He doesn't buy the explanation that it is simply a matter of geography. He says it could be done, even without wireless, if a company could be paid to the run the lines up to his area.

"Or they could run the lines up if the roads weren't so bad. It's really a pitiful situation," says Walsh.

There is plenty of activity in the area to warrant the addition of high speed Internet, he says. Aside from the tourist attractions such as the Random Passage site, there is also a big crab fishery in the area.

"For those people, aside from the lack of roads, they've got nothing for phone or online to facilitate their business," says Walsh.

The three communities have a decent enough population that Walsh feels a high-speed service should be installed. He also would like more communication between government and people in those areas.

He says he tried calling the government and Internet service providers multiple times but couldn't get information on when and if broadband would be available in his area.

Maurice Alyward, general manager of Icenet Wireless, says his company was told by government what communities they were to cover, with changes being made right up the last three weeks before the announcement.

He told The Packet that if it is cost effective, his company will look into moving into the communities not currently covered. He also says having service nearby makes it easier to expand in the future.

"So, what we do is we get our planning done from our engineers and they tell us where to put our towers and so on," says Alyward, adding, " we cover the communities the facility requested and it can cover a fair geographic area."

Alyward is uncertain when the communities mentioned in the government announcement earlier this month will have Broadband service, but a representative from the Department of Innovation told The Packet it should be complete by March 15, 2015, depending on the weather.

"The schedule hasn't been given to us from government; then we have to sit down with the department of innovation and rural development and go over the information they have for us," says Alyward.

Last year Icenet had a list of 32 communities to install Internet but the weather caused a four-month delay in completing the task.

With 63 communities to do this time around, Alyward says it could be later than March of next year before the work is complete.

Alyward is uncertain if government has plans to move into Trouty, New and Old Bonaventure but he says the company will move into any place that is near enough to a tower to make it financially viable for them to do so.

Walsh says he has doubts that a tower will reach the community, noting that there isn't even a cell tower in range of the community, which sits near the end of Route 239, about 15 kilometers from Trinity, Trinity Bay.

Organizations: Broadband Icenet Wireless, Google, Department of Innovation

Geographic location: New Bonaventure, Trinity Bay

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