CLARENVILLE, NL —Wilbur Cramm of Fairhaven, Placentia Bay, has wanted affordable, high-speed internet access for some time now.
Paying over $400 a month for his television, home phone, cell phone and satellite-based Xplornet internet service, he’s had enough.
Cramm made a point of making the trip to Clarenville on Monday for a federal and provincial government announcing of funding for Internet service to remote and rural communities in the region.
While he was pleased about the potential access, he says his main concern is getting a better price from a provider.
“I guess we’ll have to wait and see what it does,” Cramm told the Packet. “If we only got one provider coming in there, they’ve got a bit of a monopoly too, I suppose.
“If you had three or four providers coming in, there certainly would be competition and keep your price down.”
Cramm says as a fisherman, he needs reliable, high-speed internet at a good price. While Xplornet has fairly good service, he says it’s spotty during heavy rain, snow or fog.
Aside from a contingent from Fairhaven, the event at the Clarenville Inn saw Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP Churence Rogers, Terra Nova MHA Colin Holloway, Placentia West-Bellevue MHA Mark Browne and Bonavista MHA Neil King in attendance to make the announcement, as the projects affect areas in each of their districts.
“We are very much a rural riding,” said Rogers at the event.
“Imagine if you didn’t have access to internet. Only people who live in areas without access realize how big of a deal that is.”
On Jan. 4, the federal government and the province initially announced the plan to improve internet access in rural and remote communities – including 70 different places in Newfoundland and Labrador – equating to $28.45 million in funding for $39.97 million of work.
The federal program providing most of the funding is called Connect to Innovate — which has a goal of providing internet service of a minimum of five megabits per second to underserviced communities. This totals about $500 million in funding across the entire country.
In this region of the province, the four projects will cost about $2.7 million, with about $750,000 coming from the province’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, Browne announced.
The work will be done by Bell Aliant. Holloway added most of the funded work is about getting the infrastructure in place for areas that don’t have lines or other means for a company to provide internet.
Rogers used Fairhaven as an example when speaking about the upcoming work. As for further specifics, however, the MP and the MHAs were unable to say the exact type of work to be done in each of the areas, or the communities that may get access.
But Rogers and MHAs Holloway, Browne and King did mention several communities in their district when discussing the projects.
These included but were not limited to:
• Little Harbour East;
• South East Bight;
• Burnside-St. Chads;
• St. Brendan’s Island;
They say there will be more detailed information will be provided in the coming weeks.