High speed internet expansion continues

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Greg Newing

MRC PONTIAC & MUNICIPALITY OF PONTIAC ­– A large-scale project to extend high speed internet connections to rural areas of the Pontiac, scheduled to finish by the end of September, has been delayed until the end of 2022 with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) citing weather events as a major cause. Fines for a delay in completion were part of the original contracts, but the Journal was unable to confirm if and when they will
be levied.

The project is part of an initiative named “Operation haut vitesse” which aims to provide high-speed internet to every home in Quebec. Funded by both federal and provincial governments,
the project includes investing $147 million in Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to extend connectivity to rural parts of Outaouais. When it was first launched in spring 2021, Bell was responsible for connecting approximately 10,600 homes in the entire Outaouais, Cogeco, 2,890 homes and Xplornet, 15,310 homes. The smaller rural ISP, Connexion Fibre Picanoc also received $1.1 million to connect 155 homes.

Bell’s Senior Manager for Media Relations, Caroline Audet, noted that while many homes have already been connected in areas which Bell is responsible for, “weather events earlier in the year” caused delays for the project. Audet said that the company expects the work to be fully completed by the end of this year and that residents can visit Bell’s website (www.bell.ca) to check for service availability.

At the launch of the project Bell was given responsibility for connecting homes in Alleyn-et-Cawood, Chichester, L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, Sheenboro and Waltham as well as Upper Pontiac.

Communications Advisor for Cogeco, Laurise Roy-Tremblay, said the company has connected 200 homes since the start of the project and will be connecting an additional 225 homes in the coming weeks. She explained that, in addition to “inclement weather such as the May storm”, unforeseen circumstances such as supply shortages and a labour shortage have impacted the pace of the project. She said teams remain focused on delivering services and that the company will continue construction over the winter so that all remaining homes in their territory will be connected before the end of the year.

Cogeco has been responsible for providing service in various parts of the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, including Municipality of Pontiac, as well as parts of the MRC of Pontiac.

To be notified when services become available, residents can sign up on Cogeco’s website athttps://www.cogeco.ca/en/networkexpansion.

Residents can also use an interactive map on the Government of Quebec’s Website to check the current status of the “Operation haut-vitesse” including the status of operations in the Pontiac: https://www.quebec.ca/
gouvernement/politiques-orientations/carte-internet-haute-vitesse

The Pontiac Journal contacted the two other ISPs involved in the project – Xplornet and Connexion Fibre Picanoc – but did not receive a response in time for publication.

The Journal will be publishing further updates on this project as more information becomes available.