The village of Doaktown is used to dealing with spotty internet service but with increased need for internet access during the pandemic, their problems have only gotten worse.
Art O’Donnell, a municipal councillor in Doaktown, said the internet is so slow it’s hard to get anything done.
“You bring up the internet and you get the infamous little wheel turning. By the time you connect, you do two minutes of work and you’re back off the air again. So, very discouraging,” he told Information Morning Fredericton.
He said the internet quality has been the same since he moved back to Doaktown in 2010.
COVID-19 has forced things like council meetings, doctors appointments and education to be done online.
“In order to live nowadays you need high speed internet, it’s everything.”
He said the problem isn’t exclusive to Doaktown but is also present in Blackville, Upper Miramichi and other rural communities in the province.
He’s calling on the province to step in and hopes more people will encourage the government to take action.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jake Stewart, who is also the MLA for Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin responded to a letter from O’Donnell saying he’s been working tirelessly to improve internet access in rural New Brunswick for 10 years.
Stewart wasn’t available for an interview today but his team provided CBC with a copy of the letter addressed to Doaktown council.
“The mistakes of previous governments that were unsuccessful in getting private industry to upgrade services and take the delivery of rural high-speed internet in rural regions serious has not gone unnoticed by the current government,” the letter reads.
Stewart listed a number of steps being taken to improve internet access in rural New Brunswick, including supporting a decision last year to approve a request for support of a $200 million federal investment in broadband improvements.
“The investment was alongside investments being made by Xplornet to increase download and upload speeds as well as to stabilize costs to consumers for the service.”
Stewart said the project is about to enter it’s second and final phase. Upon completion over 83,000 residential customers and 4,700 businesses should have faster and more stable internet connections.
O’Donnell said he’s going to continue to push both the federal and provincial government for more answers and movement toward better internet for the area.
“”We need it as much as somebody who lives in downtown Toronto needs it.”