The Province of Nova Scotia and Seaside Communications of Sydney announces plans to have high-speed Internet service delivered to all unserved areas of Nova Scotia by 2009.

Internet access is about to get a bit faster in many rural areas of Nova Scotia.

The expansion of high-speed Internet access to all of Nova Scotia will begin this month in a cluster of rural communities from Tidnish to Port Howe. The province's goal is to make Nova Scotia the most connected area in all of North America.

"Rural areas require broadband connectivity to be able to reach their full economic and social potential," said Premier Rodney MacDonald. "Indeed, that's why our government is committed to expanding high-speed broadband access for all Nova Scotians, no matter where they live."

Seaside Communications of Sydney will begin rolling out state-of-the-art broadband in the pilot project area. Seaside, with the Office of Economic Development and the Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association, will use experience from the pilot to refine delivering broadband to all other unserved areas by 2009.

"We are excited about working on this project in partnership with government, local businesses, organizations and individuals," said Irving Schwartz, president of Seaside Communications. "We are also confident that a viable and competitive business model can be adapted for all rural areas of the province."

Expansion of broadband to other areas of the province will begin this year. It's expected that provincewide, high-speed Internet expansion can be achieved mainly with wireless technology, proven to be a reliable and lower cost technology for such a project.

"The Tidnish to Port Howe area is representative of many Nova Scotia rural areas," said Richard Hurlburt, Minister of Economic Development. "This similarity will provide us with an overall approach for connecting all rural areas of the province."

The Office of Economic Development is providing $430,000 to cover project expenses, and will lead the pilot, in partnership with representatives from the Cumberland County communities and the Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association.

"Access to broadband will provide benefits to our students, businesses and residents in the Tidnish to Port Howe area," said Rhonda Kelly, executive director of the association. "Our association will continue to work on expanding this access to the rest of Cumberland County in a timely manner."

High-speed Internet service is available to 72 per cent of Nova Scotia communities containing 85 per cent of the population. The expansion project will see the remaining areas of the province served by the end of 2009.

For more information, please contact:
Joe Gillis
Premier's Office

Tom Peck
Office of Economic Development

Nova Scotia, January 3, 2007