After years of waiting, Lower North Shore communities get high-speed Internet

After years of waiting, some communities along Quebec's Lower North Shore have access to high-speed Internet and cell service, and the rest of the coast is expected to be hooked up by the end of next year.  

"This is great news for our community," said Wanda Beaudoin, mayor of Blanc-Sablon, a municipality on the border with Labrador. "Wonderful news."

The mayor said the service is a "tremendous development tool" that will have a ripple effect on the region, from health services, to tourism, to community connection.

"I think it opens up so many possibilities for the region, for us, and for individuals," she said.

The current service is incredibly slow, making delivering public services difficult, and streaming is almost impossible.

Beaudoin hopes the faster, more reliable Internet will also help healthcare professionals assess, diagnose, and treat patients remotely.

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The infrastructure — including equipment brought in by boat and helicopter to build giant microwave radio towers — was made possible by a $23-million investment from the federal and provincial governments.

High-speed Internet and cell service in the region have been a long time coming.

"This is a file that's been active many years," said Beaudoin, adding that a funding announcement was made two years ago. "We're here today with the results of all that work."

Beaudoin said cell phone service is also "extremely important," especially because the region is very isolated, and being able to communicate in remote areas will provide a better sense of security.