“What we want to do is a project for people who do not have high-speed Internet,” said Brigitte Dupuis, Videotron network development director, during a presentation February 26 to the United Counties of Prescott & Russell council (UCPR).
Videotron wants to apply to the CRTC for funding assistance on a project for providing high-speed Internet service to several of Prescott-Russell’s rural areas. The company seeks the UCPR’s support for its project application.
The eight mayors on UCPR council all expressed interest in Videotron’s proposal and its potential benefit for some of their rural areas that still lack reliable high-speed Internet service. Council deferred the request to its March 11 committee of the whole session for further discussion and also allow administration time to gather more information.
The Videotron presentation is the latest of several made to UCPR council from Internet service companies that are either proposing or already planning projects for improved Internet service in rural areas of Eastern Ontario. The UCPR provided support several years ago as part of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC) to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN), which was a joint project between the federal, provincial, and regional governments and the private sector for increasing high-speed Internet access throughout Eastern Ontario.
The UCPR has since then confirmed its support for another EORN project, which involves improving cellular phone service access throughout Eastern Ontario. The goal with the Cell Gap Project is to eliminate “dead zones” where cellular service does not exist. This would serve both local economic development and also increase public safety, ensuring mobile phone access to call police, fire, or ambulance during emergencies.
UCPR administration will review the support agreement with EORN to make sure there would be no conflict with any proposed support resolution for Videotron or other Internet service provides and their rural service projects. “I would like to be cautious on this point,” said Stéphane Parisien, UCPR chief administrator, to council.
During a later interview UCPR Economic Development and Tourism Director Carole Lavigne noted the “positive significance” of the interest of Videotron and other Internet service outfits in developing rural access projects.
“It is ‘written in the sky’ that development is on its way here,” Lavigne said. “I am glad that there is this interest because we are a region that is in great need of adequate Internet service, and we have been promoting the opportunities for development here.”