Internet access in Caledon needs more than just words

Tayler Parnaby is a community columnist with the Caledon Enterprise. His columns usually appear weekly.

Perhaps you saw the headline in last week’s edition of the Enterprise or on the online edition of this newspaper, or the “My Local” page of the Toronto Star.

“Bell expands fibre internet access in Caledon village. 1,000 homes and businesses in Palgrave, Inglewood to get service by end of 2021.”

The news came from a single-page, 329-word news release issued on July 14 over the name of Rizwan Jamal, president, Bell Residential and Small Business. It’s boilerplate PR. “Bridging the rural divide is a priority for Bell as we advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world.” I’m certain the 1,044 citizens of metropolitan Palgrave are wondering where, along which of Palgrave’s 15 streets, the new fibre cable will be installed. No answers, at least not yet from Bell.

This laptop is connected to a Bell internet modem. The download speed has been measured at .75 mbps, a tiny fraction of the minimum speed mandated by the CRTC. In short, hundreds of Caledon residents live in the darkness of a pre-modern age telecommunications world. Within the last year, Bell technicians told this subscriber our connection lines are too long, too old and “there’s nothing we can or will do about it.”

One week before Bell released its news release, this e-message arrived from a reliable source. Rogers had let it be known the company was investigating plans “to upgrade the infrastructure” it offers in the area where we live.

For several years, both publicly and quietly, the Town of Caledon has been stirring the pot to obtain internet service for thousands of residents, living along more than 600 kilometres of sideroads, who are considered “underserviced.”

Along our street, the easements created in the mid-1990s carries the buried facilities of Bell, Hydro One and Caledon’s waterworks. Back then, the internet was barely known, let alone understood. The iPhone was a pipe dream, arriving a decade later. Very few had any idea of the communication revolution that would follow, let alone the expense of being connected.

By now, what seemed so revolutionary even a few years ago now seems too slow, too outdated, too unconnected. To reconnect can often produce expenses in excess of $1,000. Yet, for many, the required connections are back there in the Dark Ages, when a simple envelope, a stamp and a day or three allowed handcrafted messages to be delivered with impressive efficiency.

No doubt Bell’s president of residential and small business might have smiled as his words, “bridging the rural divide,” rolled from the newspaper presses and through the electronic maze of their online internet editions.

His one-page news release said the Palgrave work would be completed within the next five months. Where is TBA?

We’ll see.

Tayler Parnaby is a retired veteran broadcast journalist. He is a community columnist with the Caledon Enterprise. Reach him at editorial@caledonenterprise.com.

Leave a Comment

x