LITCHFIELD, NS - Residents in 18 communities in West Nova will soon have access to high-speed internet services thanks to a $7.2 million investment.
West Nova MP Colin Fraser announced an investment by the federal government of nearly $4.7 million to bring high-speed internet services to 16 communities throughout West Nova on May 18 during a visit at the Litchfield Community hall in Annapolis County, one of the areas that will benefit from the investment.
The $4.7 million is part of the federal government’s $500 million Connect to Innovate program, launched to help rural and remote communities access better internet. This contribution is added to the $2.5 million in investments made by the Municipality of the County of Annapolis, Bell Canada, and Eastlink for a total of $7.2 million.
Dividing the investment
Fraser explained that $2.9 million of the Government of Canada’s contribution will go towards the Municipality of the County of Annapolis’ project to build the fiber optic internet backbone.
“I am extremely happy to say that the Municipality of the County of Annapolis will be receiving $2.9 million,” he said. “This amazing investment will help lay fiber optic cables throughout the county and partner with the tremendous work that (The Municipal Council of the County of Annapolis) has done for the people it represents.”
The communities that will benefit include Port Royal, Port Wade, Victoria Beach, Delaps Cove, Hillsburn, Parkers Cove, Youngs Cove, Phinneys Cove and Litchfield.
While this money is being allocated to the construction of the “backbone” within these communities, the County of Annapolis has a much broader plan to provide high-speed Internet infrastructure throughout the county and plans for the fiber optic internet backbone to run along the entire coast down to Margaretsville.
The rest of the federal government’s contributions will go towards projects proposed by Eastlink and Bell Canada to deliver high-speed internet to the communities of Lawrencetown, Clementsvale, Virginia East, Sandford, Gavelton, Central Chebogue, and North Range.
Additional funding for high-speed internet projects in two communities within West Nova - East Dalhousie and Black Rock - was announced May 4 by Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison.
Local government supporting local business
Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski said internet connectivity will have a big impact on businesses.
“It isn’t an exaggeration to say that in the absence of high-speed internet, we’re in the stone age - virtually everything that we’re doing now as a society depends at some extent on internet connectivity,” he said.
“In the absence of good internet connectivity, you can’t attract businesses to your region and its difficult to support your businesses as they try to grow and market their goods and services to the world.”
The county chose Mainland Telecom as its partner in building the fiber optic internet backbone, he added.
“We found exactly the right partners to do this build with us, and the folks at Mainland, we absolutely believe that they have the capacity and the expertise to give us a system here in Annapolis county that will not just work but will be absolutely world class,” he said.
Susan McArthur, president of Mainland Telecom, attended the announcement at the Litchfield Community Hall and spoke to the importance of the partnership between her company and the county.
“It’s exciting to see that we’ll maybe keep our youth in our communities and provide economic development opportunities,” she said.
Now that the funding is in place, the physical work can finally begin. Annapolis County council has allocated three years to complete the build, but Habinski says he believes it won’t take the full period of time. He also adds that people will be able to access the network sooner than they might expect.
“I anticipate that our crews could be going in a matter of weeks. And I would anticipate that the first customers actually on and having access to the network will have access in June,” Habinski said.
As the fiber is built and extended, it can be connected to houses right from the very beginning, he said.
“The initial build, the backbone fiber itself, will be running right passed 8,000 of the roughly 10,000 residences and businesses in the county,” he said.
“The last 20 per cent will probably take the most creativity because we will need to deploy last mile solutions in the months after the initial build is done, to pull in some of those final communities.”
Habinski noted that this in normal for projects like this one.
Once connected to the network, residents will have access to speeds of a full gigabyte up and gigabyte down.
“The speeds that will come right at people’s homes, of a full gigabyte up and gigabyte down in service, should permit 75 different people in the home to be watching videos online without buffering,” said Habinski.
Habinski also noted that this is a long-term solution, and that the network will be “30 years future-proofed” - meaning that no upgrade on the network put in place should be needed for at least 30 years.
Fraser was enthusiastic about the county’s project.
“It is my understanding that once this project is completed, the citizens of Annapolis County can expect internet speeds to equal or exceed the fastest internet speeds anywhere in Canada,” he said.
For Habinski, the internet announcement represents the culmination of a five-year project that will improve the lives of people in Annapolis County.
“If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, you go together,” he said.
Go online: To view the announcement in its entirety, visit https://annapoliscounty.ca/government/news-media-releases/1362-connect-to-innovate-announcement-west-nova