MRC PONTIAC & PONTIAC – After six major telecommunication outages in the last nine years, Bell Canada is investing nearly $2 million to strengthen the telecommunication system in the Pontiac by building a redundancy between the telephone exchanges in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes and Pembroke to “enhance network robustness”. Construction will begin this summer and is expected to be complete by September.
Pontiac MP Will Amos stressed that the lack of a redundancy is a major threat to public security, most notably for seniors since many do not own a cell phone. Limited cell phone and internet coverage in the region adds to the problem and many residents still only have a fixed-line phone service for this reason. Amos said he has communicated with Bell many times concerning the file, given that constituents indicated telecommunications redundancy was a priority.
During an outage in September 2017 when a vehicle collided with a hydro pole carrying fibre-optic lines in the Mansfield area, a large portion of the MRC Pontiac was left without internet and landline services for over twelve hours.
According to Amos, the new system provides a “back-up route”, another way for the main line to connect back into the system, so when it is damaged, any areas before and beyond that point are not left without telephone service. “This move will enhance telecom network resilience, which will be especially useful in
emergency situations,” he said.
The new system will also prevent the Pontiac Community Hospital from losing telephone service during outages, although a redundancy for fibre
optics (networking purposes only), installed at the hospital after a major outage in 2012, provides a back-up system if needed.
According to Amos, this improvement only touches one aspect of communications. He stressed continued the need for better high-speed internet and cell phone coverage in the region.