High-speed Internet is no longer a luxury rural residents would like to see in the countryside someday.
Instead, they get the high-speed experience somewhere else and are demanding to know why they are being left behind.
That frustration is the impetus behind a petition between Delhi and Courtland for a fibre-optic trunk line connecting the two communities.
Organizer Sharon Chaulk, a resident of Highway 3 between the two communities, has so far collected 117 signatures.
Chaulk and her neighbours are among the few still coping with rural Internet. Their service has more in common with dial-up than the lightning-fast streaming capacity of high-end digital packages in town.
“It’s very low speed,” Chaulk said. “Half the time it doesn’t work. Two people can’t log in at the same time. I can stream movies, but only when it wants to work. It’s very inconsistent.”
Chaulk and her neighbours are getting impatient because local Internet providers have been busy over the past 18 months placing fibre cable in rural and hamlet areas of Norfolk County.
Execulink installed high-speed service in Delhi several years ago and has moved on to provide service in Courtland, Andy’s Corners, Langton, Wyecombe, Lynedoch, Pinegrove, Springford, Vittoria and most recently Port Dover.
Between Delhi and Courtland is a 10-kilometre stretch of countryside that has been passed over for the time being. Residents and businesses on sideroads in this area have also signed the petition. Addresses represented include Middleton Church Road, Rhineland Road, Schafer Sideroad, Fernlea Sideroad, 1st Concession NTR, and Talbot Road behind Titan Trailers.
“I don’t understand why they’re not filling in this gap,” Chaulk said.
Execulink says part of the problem is that this section of Highway 3 is slated for construction. As such, the province has suspended all utility activity until further notice.
“We understand the importance of delivering fast and reliable Internet to rural communities in need of an enhanced telecom experience,” Becky Heeney, Execulink’s marketing co-ordinator in Woodstock, said.
“Unfortunately, the Ministry of Transportation is not allowing any fibre builds along Highway 3 until they have completed their planned construction. They have not provided any completion dates at this time.
“As well, our focus is presently on our current fibre builds and we are fully committed to these areas before we consider any future fibre communities.”
Under-serviced areas of Norfolk have been chomping at the bit since Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) officials announced May 22 that Norfolk is on deck for an $8.4-million pilot project.
When the project is complete, high-speed fibre-optic cable will be installed along most every road and street in the county.
SWIFT is a $190-million initiative undertaken on behalf of 15 rural municipalities in partnership with associated urban centres.
The same day the $8.4 million pilot project was announced in Simcoe, local MPP Toby Barrett and other members of the Ford government announced $63.7 million in funding for the SWIFT project in general.
With money in hand, SWIFT has moved on to procurement and is in the process of selecting contractors to install the required infrastructure.