July 8, 2020
Last fall a group of Puslinch residents got together with one objective: to accelerate the deployment of highspeed internet in Puslinch. I am the Committee Chair. Committee members include Andrew Good, Stephen Adshade, Blair Moch, Joe Cascanette and Tudor Whiteley as well as Puslinch Township Councillor John Sepulis. There are other Puslinch residents who have offered to help in our efforts. In addition, our group has the encouragement and support of Township Council.
Since its inception the committee has been working on understanding the reasons why so few of us in Puslinch have true “highspeed” internet service. With the exception of a handful of small areas that have fiber-based service many of us receive lower speed and unreliable internet service, and we pay too much for it. While our lack of service is not unique in rural Ontario, it is particularly frustrating given our close proximity to Guelph and Cambridge, where highspeed internet is the rule and not the exception. Many of us have a hard time convincing family, friends and colleagues in urban areas of how deficient our internet service is.
Unfortunately, the current COVID-19 crisis has served to expose this issue in dramatic fashion. Many households in Puslinch now have students and parents competing for internet bandwidth. And, while there have been initiatives on the part of some Internet Service Providers to temporarily lift internet data caps, providers of wireless internet service from cell towers continue to charge for internet data overages. Even prior to the current crisis there were some Internet Service Providers that simply oversold their service on a given tower, meaning that in high demand periods, their internet service was sometimes difficult or impossible to use. With so many of us working and studying from home, this problem has gotten significantly worse.
Our committee is working on convincing Internet Service Providers to invest in improving and/or expanding their service in Puslinch through funding opportunities at the provincial and federal levels. We have identified a funding opportunity through the provincial government that may enable the Township to partner with private Internet Service Providers to expand service, particularly for poorly serviced areas of the township. With the COVID-19 crisis, the process of fully exploring this opportunity has slowed, and the timing and funding amount has become less predictable. Nonetheless, our group is committed to pursuing this opportunity.
We’d like to turn the anecdotal stories we’re hearing about your challenges and frustrations with your internet service into a more organized collection of data. Toward that end, we are launching a short online survey that we would appreciate you filling out. The information we gain from this survey will help us in any future funding applications – you’ll see more about this survey over the next week or two.
In the meantime, to learn about our efforts please visit www.puslinchhighspeed.ca. And, please join our Facebook group page called “Puslinch Highspeed” where you’ll soon see an announcement of our Puslinch Highspeed Internet survey!
By: Glenn James