Community control offers internet solutions

Opinion

To the Editor:

Much needed investment in rural internet was announced earlier this year. Unfortunately, it looks like it will be a $120 million giveaway to the big telecom companies, rather than money to seed responsive community solutions to a very complex issue.

Nova Scotia desperately needs a rural internet strategy, but this plan simply replicates past failures. In 2007 when the Conservative government spent $26 million to bring broadband to rural Nova Scotia the majority of that money went to Eastlink and Seaside Wireless — the results were inadequate from the start, and here we are still grappling with the same problem. Using the same old ideas to fix a problem they didn’t solve the last time doesn’t make sense.

Instead, we should be looking at successful examples where our communities have come together to guarantee high-quality affordable internet access. There are dozens of inspiring examples across Canada, the US and Europe, including here in Nova Scotia.

Examples like the Valley Community Fibre Network and work i-Valley is doing with various municipalities give us clear directions for where Nova Scotia needs to be heading. If the public is going to pay for the infrastructure, the public should own the infrastructure. A combination of non-profits, cooperatives, municipality-owned utilities, or provincial crown corporation would be a much better investment. To hand over millions of public dollars to the big telecoms with no transparency, community consultation or consideration of community led solutions is a lost opportunity.

Claudia Chender

NSNDP Spokesperson for Business

MLA Dartmouth South