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Notice:

Scope Expansion Projects Announced in November 2020. Learn more.

How do I know if I’m included in Round 2 projects?

With the Round 2 announcement, an additional 32,000 homes and businesses will have access to connections—all with fibre to the home. This agreement with pre-qualified Internet service provider, Bell Media includes more than 100 communities across the province.

For a general list of project areas, click here. This details communities or parts of communities that are included in all projects to date.

We will also be hosting community-based webinars in many areas as well as sharing information with local libraries, community hubs, etc.

When will Round 2 Projects be complete?

Approximately 11,000 homes/businesses are expected to have access by Summer 2021, 21,000 by the end of 2021, and all 32,000 by Summer 2022.

This, added to Round 1 projects, will bring us to 97%—we believe Nova Scotia will be the first province in Canada to reach this level of coverage.

What about Projects announced in February—when will they be complete?

Projects announced in February 2020 are all underway and some have already been completed thanks to additional provincial investment in March 2020 to accelerate the work in response to COVID-19.

To date, approximately 18,000 homes and businesses now have the network in place to provide new or improved high-speed Internet, and providers are working to make connections for customers as quickly as possible.

All remaining Round 1 projects should be complete by early 2021.

Why do projects take so long to complete?

Having access to a connection is really the final step in the process. So even if you don’t see work going on in your community, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t started.

These projects are large and complex with significant engineering challenges and the requirement to install thousands of kilometres of fibre. Completion takes place in stages depending on when the project begins and the amount of preparation and engineering required. We recognize the urgency—project implementation is moving an average of 50% faster at almost every step of this project compared to industry standards.

We are making good progress and we will continue to work with our providers to accelerate projects wherever possible. We know how important reliable high-speed Internet is for Nova Scotians. It is simply essential in our modern world.

What speeds should I expect with approved projects?

All projects approved for funding by the arms-length Trust in Round 2 are fibre to the home/business, which provides much higher speed service than the minimum speeds required by the CRTC.

All projects will meet or exceed minimum required speeds of 50 Mbps download/10 Mbps upload for wired connections, and 25 Mbps download/5Mbps upload for wireless connections, with a plan to reach 50 Mbps across the board. Projects that aren't able to meet these standards are not recommended for funding.

Speeds are delivered through a variety of technologies, including fibre/coaxial, signal off a tower, or satellite. With these minimum speeds you’ll be able to stream music, download large files, stream high-speed definition video, do video calls, and play online games.

How many homes/businesses are now left that still require coverage? What happens to these communities?

We estimate that approximately 10,000 homes and businesses do not have access to high-speed Internet. We are turning our attention with urgency to provide access to connections.

We remain committed to cover as close to 100% of Nova Scotian homes and businesses as possible. We have a number of options available, including extending current projects, issuing additional calls for projects, and, in some cases, negotiating directly with pre-approved providers to reach as many remaining communities as we can. We know how important reliable high-speed Internet is for Nova Scotians. It is simply essential in our modern world.

I don’t seem to be in the second round of project areas announced? What’s next?

For any areas not part of the approved projects in Round 2, know that we will quickly be looking at next steps to work to provide access to connections. We remain committed to cover as close to 100% of Nova Scotian homes and businesses as possible.

We have a number of options available, including extending current projects, issuing additional calls for projects, and, in some cases, negotiating directly with pre-approved providers to reach as many remaining communities as we can.

How does this project help ensure I will get high-speed access? We talked to a provider in our area and they indicated costs to us would be substantial?

These barriers to extending access are exactly what this initiative is designed to overcome. The reason that service has not been extended in many areas has to do with the business case for Internet providers—it just isn’t strong enough to make extending the service a worthwhile business investment.

This initiative helps bridge the gaps with respect to pre-qualified Internet Service Providers' business cases. The funding from the Trust, when combined with funding from the private sector as well as, in some cases, municipalities, helps to defray the costs of the significant infrastructure build-out required to reach homes and businesses in less densely populated areas of the province.

Why are you going through a formal process and don’t just give money to providers if they already have infrastructure in place near my home/business/community?

We work through a competitive procurement process which is important. It ensures fairness, transparency in how proposals are evaluated, and informed decision-making. It encourages both large and small organizations, of many different types, to participate— illustrated by the funded projects announced in February which will see access to connections provided for more than 42,000 homes and businesses. With our project announcement in August, there will now be access to connections for an additional 32,000 Nova Scotians.

It is because of the integrity of this process that good recommendations can be made to the arms-length Trust for the investment of significant public funds. We also work to leverage funds from the Internet Service Providers and other partners.

Are there agreements in place with the providers?

Develop Nova Scotia negotiates agreements and manages the contracts and multi-

year service level agreements moving forward. The Contribution Agreement is held by the Trust, to which Develop Nova Scotia is a party. The Service Level Agreements are held by Develop Nova Scotia. These ensure accountability for service and quality standards, a competitive pricing structure, and ongoing maintenance and investment in the network.

How do you monitor progress and ensure accountability with these agreements?

The Service Level Agreements signed with Develop Nova Scotia include provisions that require regular quality and service reporting and allow us to inspect and audit the network installation.

We are having regular meetings with partners to review and check progress against their objectives. We are able to check on equipment and installation progress through pictures and video, and, when it is safe to do so, through in-person inspections by an experienced network engineer.

What about affordability of service? Are there data caps with any of the approved projects?

Included in the Service Level Agreements with providers are provisions to ensure cost competitiveness. Comparable Internet services must be cost competitive with those already available, regardless of where they are offered.

In terms of data caps, this is something that is regulated federally by the CRTC. However, in order for a service to be cost competitive between markets, what you receive as part of that service must be comparable. If one service has a data cap, and the other does not, the services are not comparable.

What efforts are underway to help support people during COVID-19?

We’re working with our Internet Service Providers to look at projects with an aim to go faster. There are some acceleration efforts underway for Round 1 projects thanks to additional provincial investment of $15M and we will continue to look at options.

To date, $5.6M has been invested in speeding up installation of Round 1 projects, including the installation of 19 towers in 100 days in Cumberland/Colchester; faster completion in Elmsdale, Caledonia, and Shelburne projects; some easing of congestion on existing tower networks; as well as some acceleration of fibre installation in projects across Nova Scotia.

We are looking at all projects to work to eliminate red tape, speed up regulatory approvals, and ensure better coordination among all of the people working to bring service to your door. This will help Nova Scotians working differently and from home during COVID-19, while still staying connected to friends and family.

I am having issues with my current Internet provider. What are my options?

If you are not able to resolve directly you can reach out to the Federal government who regulates Internet Service Providers and sets the minimum speeds. Some contacts for your reference.

  • Contact Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a consumer-advocacy group based in Ottawa that specializes in Canadian telecommunications. They can provide information regarding contracts & pricing issues.

    piac@piac.ca | 1-613-562-4002

What happens to the remainder of this additional $15M indicated for potential accelerated projects?

We continue to work with our Internet service partners to look at every project to see if acceleration is possible. Any remaining funds will be part of the Nova Scotia Internet Trust for future projects.

What about 5G options?

We are focused on outcomes not technologies. We have invited service providers to put forward their best solutions to meet requirements now and into the future. We’re confident that when it is feasible for providers to include new technologies in their solutions, they will do so. In the end, we’ll rely on federal regulators to guide the introduction of these technologies into the Canadian marketplace.

What kind of protection is in place for us regarding Internet?

The Federal government’s Internet Code protects Canadians who subscribe to Internet services.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) created the code so that customers of Internet services are better informed of their rights and responsibilities contained in their contracts with service providers. This includes easy to understand contracts, clearer information about prices, bill shock protection and greater flexibility. Read more here.

How does this tie into the Federal rural broadband program?

The projects announced in both Round 1 and 2 are funded entirely through the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust. We continue to work with our Federal counterparts to understand and align with their programming accordingly.

Why has only Bell Canada been awarded in Round 2?

The Round 2 RFP was open to all 15 pre-qualified proponents and we received proposals from a number of them. In this case, when the proposals were evaluated and scored, the highest ranked projects all happened to be Bell projects. You will recall that five separate ISPs, both big and small, were awarded projects through Round 1.

We should also recognize CRTC regulations around open access mean that portions of backbone networks installed are open to other providers to access, so more robust Internet networks could encourage further competition at the customer level over time.

What about high-speed Internet in Pictou County?

The Pictou Consortium is leading their own high-speed Internet project for the area. We have indicated that should any portions of the region remain underserved in the future, we would include those areas in our project scope.

What about cell coverage?

Cell coverage is not explicitly part of Develop Nova Scotia's Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative mandate. However, we recognize this is an issue in many rural areas of the province. The extension of robust backbone networks (like fibre) further into communities does help to improve the business case for cellular providers. We are currently working with the Province, which has now conducted a cell coverage gap analysis, to see how we might be able to assist in addressing these issues moving forward. In the meantime, we will look at opportunities to locate Internet infrastructure so that it may eventually help to address cellular issues wherever possible.

How does the recent position by the federal government—siding with large companies on CRTC decision to lower wholesale rates—impact progress here in Nova Scotia?

Neither the original CRTC decision, nor an impending review decision, has prevented the Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative from progressing. Each pre-approved ISP makes its own decision to respond to our Request for Proposals based on individual business circumstances, and we respect whatever they decide.

How can I sign up for future Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative updates?

Complete our contact form, email us at info@developns.ca or call 1-833-422-6591

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