Financial penalties possible for high-speed delays

0
9

Greg Newing
MRC PONTIAC – The Journal reached out to Quebec’s Ministry of the Executive Council and to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to inquire whether companies that missed the September 30 deadline would receive financial penalties, as per the original contracts. The project provided $147 million in government support to connect rural homes to highspeed internet across the Outaouais and, while progress has been made, there are still some areas not connected to the network.

The media relations office for the Executive Council confirmed that ISPs which did not meet the deadline will receive penalties but the exact amounts aren’t yet known. They said the process may take some time since the government must first physically verify the data and review the companies’ progress reports before penalties can be determined.

Two major ISPs involved in the project, Bell and Cogeco, claim that the delays were largely due to weather events such as the May “derecho” storm as well as supply chain disruptions. When asked about financial penalties, Communications Advisor for Cogeco, Laurise Roy-Tremblay, said that an Act of God (force majeure) could apply in cases where delays are deemed outside of their control, making them exempt from fines. She said that Cogeco’s primary focus at this time remains ensuring that service becomes fully available as soon as possible. Bell, as well as the other two service providers, Xplornet, and Picanoc, were unavailable to comment.

Prices and installation fees will vary depending on the ISP, home address, and current offers and promotions. Average monthly costs generally vary between $60 to $150 per month, depending on the service package.

Starlink available at reduced rates

Residents who live in areas where fibre optic internet is not yet available or who live in areas too remote to receive the service are eligible for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet at a reduced rate of $100 per month (standard rate is $140) until June 2025. Equipment is also provided free of charge (original value of $749), but customers are responsible for delivery costs and must install the satellite system themselves.

To check for eligibility and to register visit: https://www.quebec.ca/offrealternative and click “Accéder au formulaire d’identification” (the form is available in English by clicking the language drop down menu in the top right once the link is opened).

To check the current status of the “Operation haut-vitesse” in the Pontiac and throughout Quebec visit: https://www.quebec.ca/gouvernement/politiques-orientations/carte-internet-haute-vitesse