Xplornet completes big step toward high-speed internet for all of P.E.I.

·2 min read
A fibre optic cable for Xplornet internet service now runs through the Confederation Bridge. (Stephen DesRoches - image credit)
A fibre optic cable for Xplornet internet service now runs through the Confederation Bridge. (Stephen DesRoches - image credit)

The internet company Xplornet is the first company in 25 years to string a fibre optic cable through the utility corridor on the Confederation Bridge.

Xplornet has strung a 15-kilometre fibre optic cable through the corridor that runs under the roadway. It is part of the company's plan to provide high-speed internet service to rural P.E.I.

"In order to do that we need to connect the Island to a fibre network in New Brunswick," said Charles Beaudet, Xplornet's vice president for the Quebec and Atlantic regions.

"Our goal is to provide urban-like services and also urban-like prices. We're not going to charge more than what people will pay in Charlottetown."

Complaints about rural internet speeds go back many years, as have promises to get it fixed. Xplornet had previously promised to connect all Islanders by February 2018.

Beaudet told Island Morning host Laura Chapin that its new network will be operational in March 2023. It is unclear exactly how many Islanders the new rural network will reach. Earlier this year the government said the last three to five per cent of Islanders would be difficult to reach.

On the Island side of the fibre optic cable, the company is completing a network of 40 towers that will all be connected by fibre optics and have the capacity to reach customers throughout rural P.E.I. with a 5G wireless connection.

"It provides us with much more capacity to be able to connect everyone," said Beaudet.

"Our goal here is to provide not only the desired capacity now but also make sure that we have much more capacity for the future, because we know it's going to grow."

The total cost of the project is not confirmed yet. It was previously estimated at more than $70 million, with $33 million from the federal government, $3.4 million from the province, and $37 million from Xplornet and Bell.

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