‘I knew it was going to be bad but I didn’t know it was as bad as it was,’ says local ownerShanna Joudrey knows what’s at stake; the survival of her business, like many entrepreneurs along the South Shore, depends on the Internet.
“I do the majority of my business online,” she said of her wedding planning service, Details Events & Design Studio, which she operates from her home in Branch LaHave.
“Having that social media presence is definitely where I get the majority of my work done.”
However, like 65 per cent of Lunenburg County residents, Joudrey doesn’t have adequate access to even the most basic level of Internet.
She said, until last year, her connection speeds were slower than dial-up — costing her time and money.
“I knew when kids (in the neighbourhood) were home from school. I really couldn’t do much of anything after that point,” said Joudrey.
As per CRTC, an authority on Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications, the basic minimum for Internet is set at 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads.
Although these minimums were set in 2016, many households along the South Shore fall far below these minimums or have no Internet at all; for example, dial-up speeds average around 1.5 Mbps.
Whose job is it to provide dependable, affordable internet?
“You could argue forever about whose responsibility that is,” said Allen Webber, warden for the Municipality of Chester.
He added the answer is complex but the incentive to improve Internet speeds across the South Shore is clear: connectivity equals opportunity.
And right now, municipal governments across the region are working to capitalize on quality Internet, which would open up more business, immigration and educational opportunities.
The problem is there’s a level of politics in providing the Web to a large area but a small population.
MODL Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson noted the municipality has made Internet a priority but can’t make meet the CRTC’s minimum 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload speeds without help.
“This is a project which municipalities cannot solve on their own,” she said.
“We want to make sure whatever service we put in place, it has the capacity to be expandable.”
Ninety per cent of the country is expected to meet the CRTC’s standards by 2021.