Poor internet service has Cape Breton business owner contemplating move

Poor internet service is prompting a small business owner in Cape Breton to reconsider her future on the island.

Sara Rankin runs a graphic design and web company in Mabou.

She signed up for high-speed internet but says it's not working properly. The company has swapped out her modem a few times but she said the situation isn't any better.

Rankin said her business depends on a high-speed connection.

'Incredibly frustrating'

"It affects me personally on a daily basis," said Rankin.

Rankin works in design and that means large files. "It's incredibly frustrating for me when I can't upload, download [and] open emails."

She said Skype calls with clients in Boston and Toronto get dropped and it becomes difficult to make them understand why.

Rankin said she is considering relocating to mainland Nova Scotia if something is not done within the next year.

"I love living in Cape Breton, but unfortunately it's pushing me to a point where I have to consider work over lifestyle."

Steve Rankin Photography

The warden of Inverness County said Rankin's complaint is not an isolated one.

Betty Anne MacQuarrie said internet service is a problem across the county.

'We do hear frustration from our residents, some who don't have internet whatsoever," said MacQuarrie.

She said council has invited Bell to a future council meeting to discuss the situation.

She said the county is also talking about internet with Develop Nova Scotia, the provincial Crown corporation which is responsible for developing a strategy to extend high-speed internet access to underserved communities.

Rankin said she's had to resort to extreme measures at times to get her work done. She said she's gone to her former high school during the day to use their fibre-op connection.

"But in the summertime, I sit on the ground behind my high school because it was the only place I could get fibre-op in order to meet my deadline," said Rankin.

"So I was running my business behind my old high school, which is kind of crazy, but you gotta do what you gotta do to meet your deadline."

Rankin said the internet issue will deter people from starting businesses on the island and may force some people to leave.

"So if we're promoting Cape Breton as a place to do business, this is something they need to fix."

In an email to the CBC, Bell Aliant did not comment specifically on Rankin's complaint. 

But spokesperson Katie Hatfield said that advanced broadband networks can be "quite costly" and it can be difficult to build a business case for "sparsely populated locations."

Hatfield said the company will follow up with the municipality on the situation.

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