P.E.I. testing rural internet speeds

P.E.I. keeping a close eye on NAFTA talks

The P.E.I. government is planning to create a map of internet speeds across the province, as part of its strategy to improve service for rural Islanders.

Internet service outside of the Island's cities and towns has been an issue for more than a decade. The province signed a deal with Bell Aliant in 2008 to provide universal high-speed internet. Bell Aliant says it completed that project, providing minimum speeds of 1.5 mbps to all households, in 2010.

But standards continue to rise. The latest plan, through a deal with Xplornet signed last spring, will provide speeds that the province says are up to 25 mbps. The deal is for a minimum speed of 5 mbps.

Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald said the province is open to new ideas for improving rural service.

'We want to see … the best available service'

"We have … made it clear that we will consider proposals to improve internet service in our rural areas," said MacDonald in a news release.

"We want to see a competitive, open market to provide Islanders with the best available service."

The province estimates that currently about 20 per cent of Islanders cannot access adequate internet services.

The government says it will use the speed test survey along with feedback from Islanders to determine how best to improve service.

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