High-speed Internet for all: the CAQ affirms that its promise will be kept

Next week, we will have 100% of the territory of Quebec connected to the Internet [haute vitesse]that is to say that we will have a high-speed Internet service available everywhere in Quebec, whether wireless or wiredsaid last Friday the government official in charge of the file, Gilles Bélanger, in an interview with Tout un matin.

The Member for Orford indicated that 70,000 residences were still without high-speed Internet as of July, but that at a rate of 35,000 to 40,000 connections per month, it will be possible to connect all Quebecers who want it before the September 30 deadline.

He invites Quebecers who are still deprived of high-speed Internet to consult the government’s interactive map (New window) to know when and by which provider they should be connected.

allow me to doubt

Robert Pelletier, resident of a municipality located 15 km from downtown Drummondville, said he reacted with surprise to Gilles Bélanger’s assertion.

According to the interactive map, only 45% of the 1097 eligible homes in Saint-Lucien are currently served by high speed. Mr. Pelletier is one of those who are still waiting to be connected.

We are in mid-August and there is still no optical fiber in front of ushe points out.

The supplier who obtained the contract to connect the sector wants to be reassuring. Cogeco told Mr. Pelletier that his neighborhood would be well served by September 30, as also indicated on the government’s interactive map.

Cogeco is one of the companies that have been selected by the Government of Quebec as part of Operation High Speed ​​aimed at connecting all Quebec households by September 2022.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

Armed with this assurance, he tried to make an appointment in the days following September 30 to connect his residence to the optical fiber, suspecting that several of his neighbors would hasten to do the same.

However, the company told him that they could not give him an appointment until the wiring was installed. This installation date was also not communicated to him.

Cogeco persists in maintaining September 30 as the date. Maybe they will get there, but no one is able to tell us: “we will come to your house in the second week of September to install the fiber”laments Mr. Pelletier.

When I am told: “rest assured, on September 30 you will be connected”, but that it is impossible for me to make an appointment on October 3 to make the connection, that creates doubts in my mind, let’s sayhe drops at the end of the line.

The service star link to make up for the delays

Gilles Bélanger recognizes that suppliers have fallen behind in the installation of fiber optics, the technology favored by the government to make high-speed Internet accessible to all households in the province.

It is the service availability of star linkowned by billionaire Elon Musk, which allows the MP to affirm that the government’s commitment will be respected as of this week.

We had made a commitment to have 100% coverage for Quebec by September 30, there we have 100% satellite coverage. I want September 30 to be 100% on all the commitments we had madehe said Friday afternoon in a telephone interview.

Gilles Bélanger at a press conference

Gilles Bélanger was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to the Prime Minister for the deployment of high-speed Internet in December 2020.

Photo: Radio-Canada

This network of low-orbit satellites is already available to around 8,000 homes located in areas where optical fiber is proving too expensive to install.

This option is also offered on an interim basis in areas where the installation of optical fiber cannot be carried out before September 30.

We validate the work in the field of suppliers who claim that it will be delivered by September 30 because there are penalties that apply if they do not. If we judge that there will be a delay, we balance all these homes with the availability of connectivity by star linkexplains the deputy.

Mr. Bélanger adds that the government cannot offer the service star linkbefore being certain [que le fournisseur] is late.

Without this certainty, a citizen like Robert Pelletier must resign himself to waiting.

Available, but at what price?

Citizens duly notified of a delay on the part of their supplier can fill out a form accessible directly on the interactive map of the Government of Quebec in order to obtain the equipment necessary to connect to the satellite network. They will have the option of keeping this service or migrating to optical fiber once the work is completed.

A resident of Saint-Charles-de-Bourget, in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Robert Couture is one of those eligible for the satellite service of star link.

The government’s interactive map indicates that the supplier responsible for deploying fiber optics in its region, Videotron, will not be able to connect its residence before November 2022.

Mr. Couture notes, however, that the service offered by star link is more expensive than that of traditional providers, despite government financial assistance.

Under its agreement with star linkthe Government of Quebec subsidizes $40 of a monthly subscription, which represents a flat rate of approximately $100 per month, before taxes.

The 150 megabits/second service at Videotron costs approximately $85. Right now, if I’m dealing with star link I will be at 100 [$] plus tax, per month notes Mr. Couture.

In an email sent to Mr. Couture dated August 3, a communications adviser from the Ministère du Conseil exécutif concedes that monthly subscription to star link is actually higher than the average of other providers. She adds, however, that the government aims to compensate in part these costs by fully subsidizing start-up equipment, valued at approximately $700.

However, Robert Couture expresses reservations about the accuracy of this information. He notes that shipping and handling fees were charged to his daughter when she attempted to order her equipment.

A bill

Shipping and handling charges are specified on this Starlink service subscription order.

Photo: Emilie Couture

Resident of Sainte-Ambroise, Émilie Couture lives in a home considered impossible to serve with wired service. She is therefore eligible for the subsidized service of star link.

However, she changed her mind when she realized that she had to pay $65 in delivery costs before taxes.

I am aware that the set of star link worth about $700, but it’s still $75 that I don’t want to pay, already that I’m going to pay more for my Internet access each month.

Gilles Bélanger, however, denied that such costs could be claimed.

It’s ordered, it’s delivered, and the set is free. the set belongs [au gouvernement du Québec]there are no delivery costshe says.

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