Rural residents still suffer poor Internet service

Rural residents still suffer poor Internet service

Clarence-Rockland council reviewed a report during its December 21 committee of the whole session from its IT Director Michel Cousineau on the state of broadband service for rural areas of the municipality. Cousineau’s report noted that the level of Internet service for many rural residents of Clarence-Rockland “has been, and continues to be, a source of frustration” despite two decades of “limited success” from senior-level government funding programs aimed at improving rural broadband service.

The report noted that the pandemic has aggravated the situation for many residents who now have to work from home and are dealing with a broadband connection “far under the acceptable threshold of 50mbs (megabytes per second) download and 10mbs upload standards laid by the government.”

Cousineau also noted that the situation is not just a problem for people already living in the rural areas around the villages of St-Pascal-Baylon, Cheney-Hammond, and Bourget, but also for individuals and families who want to move to Clarence-Rockland for its rural lifestyle.

“We are trying to think outside of the box,” Cousineau told council, regarding the efforts of his department and city administration to find solutions to the problem.

Ward 8 Councillor Diane Choinière observed that both the provincial and federal governments keep promising to improve rural broadband access but with little or no success so far.

“They promised everybody,” she said. “They cannot promise something and then not provide the funding for it. You need (high-speed) Internet everywhere now.”

Ward 5 Councillor André J. Lalonde told council that Clarence-Rockland needs to make sure that it is on the list of communities that all the major Internet service companies have when they consider future service improvement projects. Cousineau agreed.

“We do try to get in contact with the Bells and the Videotrons of the world,” he said, “so that they do not forget Clarence-Rockland.”

Council members discussed the current effort by the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) group to confirm partnership funding and support for its planned Gig Project to raise Internet service levels across Eastern Ontario to the 50mbs/10mbs level. They also noted that in some regions of Québec there are local improvement projects in progress for rural Internet service.

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