Cottam, Ont. resident starts petition for faster, reliable internet service

·2 min read
Cottam, Ont. is still without fibre optic cables, causing slow and unreliable internet service. Gosfield Tel, the only independent telecomunications provider in Essex County, says the cables will come, but are not saying when.  (Erik White/CBC  - image credit)
Cottam, Ont. is still without fibre optic cables, causing slow and unreliable internet service. Gosfield Tel, the only independent telecomunications provider in Essex County, says the cables will come, but are not saying when. (Erik White/CBC - image credit)

On some days, it is slow. Others, it is painfully slow, says Tim Meloche.  He lives in Cottam, Ont.

"We might get 18 megabytes per second here, but that's because I've spent much more money to upgrade the equipment," Tim Meloche told Windsor Morning's Peter Duck. "Other people get maybe four megabytes per second steady throughout the day."

"It's difficult to live a modern life, to stream, to Zoom and do most things people do on the Internet on a daily basis."

iStock
iStock

The consistently slow connection drove Meloche to start an online petition to get Gosfield Tel to improve the service. The petition has been active for less than a week and Meloche said 125 signatures have already been gathered from Cottam alone.

Gosfield Tel is the only independent telecommunications provider in Essex County. Meloche said there are options for satellite-based internet service and some residents have switched. However, he says that the average Cottam resident likes Gosfield Tel because it is a co-operative company.

Meloche said the COVID-19 pandemic brought the issue of Gosfield Tel's slow service to a head.

"All the kids were online, and it was slow," he recalls. "It was slow; the connection would drop, the quality was poor."

Since then, the issues have not improved.

"We have the copper service here," Meloche said. "When I moved to Cottam in 2009, it was great. But in town, it just hasn't kept up with the times."

Jonathan Migneault/CBC
Jonathan Migneault/CBC

Meloche said Gosfield Tel has been running fiber optic cables to other communities like Woodslee and Belle River. Gosfield Tel has said there are plans to run the new cables to provide service to Cottam, but no timeline has been announced.

Meloche hopes the petition will prompt Gosfield Tel to provide a concrete timeline for upgraded service to its customers in Cottam.

Another reason for the petition was push the company for a response to customer complaints, which Meloche says has been underwhelming.

"The message we always got was, 'If people have an issue about it, tell them to complain; tell them to let us know,'" Meloche said. "So I figured, 'If they get everyone in one place to say that it's an issue, it's hard to say that the town is disinterested in the issue.'"

The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Gosfield Tel said they understand everyone's frustrations, adding that four new board members were elected in March and the executive was just dismissed.

They add, "The board's intentions are to put together a comprehensive plan with achievable timelines and budgets. These timelines will be based on our financial position and potential opportunities which we are actively engaged in. Once we have the data, together with our team of incredible staff we will publish our plan."