Connect the regions to the Internet at high speed will be longer and more expensive

Brancher les régions à Internet haute vitesse sera plus long et plus coûteux

Photo: Pedro Ruiz The Duty
In an electoral campaign, François Legault had promised to provide Internet access to all Quebeckers, who are deprived of it by the end of his first term.

The promise of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) to provide all regions with access to high-speed Internet by 2022 is going to take more time to achieve, and cost more than expected.

In an electoral campaign, François Legault had promised to provide Internet access to all Quebeckers, who are deprived of it by the end of his first term. A commitment of $ 400 million designed to 240,000 households.

However, the member to which it entrusted the folder, Gilles Bélanger (Orford), writes today that ” it is utopian to think that Quebec will be 100 % covered by 2022 “. “I believe that in some cases, it will be very very close to 100 %, but there will always remain some areas where it’s going to take a six years “,-he said.

Why ? “Because there are CRMS that may not be ready,” he said. And because there are places where there are no profits to connect “, for example.

As for costs, the mp Bélanger already foresees that the planned investment of 400 million could go to 450. In total, this is $ 1.1 billion which will be injected in the adventure of the next four years. “The province of Quebec, it is 400 to 450 million that we will contribute. The rest, it comes from the federal and local promoters, and may be municipalities. “

After making the rounds of the record, Mr. Bélanger has presented his game plan to his colleagues, last week, the caucus of his party, in Gatineau.

“I put myself a goal of five years to complete. We are going to have a good hand at the level of Québec for the economic development in the region, it may not be 100 % of the solution, but… “

The plan aims first to complete the program in Quebec, plugged in, launched in 2016 by the liberal government and whose funds have not been spent. This program has experienced significant delays since its entry into force.

Several municipalities are never managed to authorize their projects by the federal government, which cofinançait the project. For the time being, of the 82 projects selected by Quebec, only 9 had access to financing, according to data from the ministry of Economy.

In a first time, Gilles Bélanger hopes to make it take off “most” of these projects in the pipeline, which would increase from 340 000 to 240 000 the number of homes without high-speed Internet.

The government caquiste would initiate his own plan, which would place the MRC in the heart of the deployment of high-speed Internet in the region and, hopefully, would allow the plug 200 000 people.

Over the next few months, the MRC will launch calls for tenders to recruit the telecommunication companies that carry out their projects. “From the autumn, we would like that the first MRC should be able to receive offers. What I want is that the MRC define their needs, that we will validate with them. Subsequently, there will be tenders, some type of auction, ” says Gilles Bélanger.

Criteria tightened for telecommunications companies

To win the auction and have access to subsidies, the telecommunications companies will have to submit to criteria that were more tight than for Québec branché, ” says the mp Bélanger. “If I’m a company, I have no criteria, I’ll go on what is the most profitable. You arrive in a village, you are the branches where there is more density and you let yourself fall the rest… “

The tender will require a minimum of 50 megabits per second, which is equivalent to what the CRTC defines as the threshold of the high-speed. It is, however, less than what had been promised the CAQ during the election campaign, a capacity of 100 megabits per second.

Giving direction to the MRC and not to the municipalities, we hope to be able to negotiate agreements that are more advantageous, and force the media to take into account the high-speed Internet in the development of the territory.

However, this will also be for the MRC to be accountable, said Mr. Bélanger. “I dream of the moment where, in five years, when a citizen will complain that it does not have access to the Internet at high speed, instead of always putting the responsibility on the government, [this will be at the MRC] responding to citizens and say :” This is our territory, it develops in such a way and that is what one is willing to assume. “”

The new program will not, however, up to encourage the MRC to become the owners of the infrastructure. “In the United States, many municipalities have invested to have their own fiber network with the potential to have royalty,” he says. Gold ” in the majority, they are planted “.

The MRC that want to can still have access to subsidies and to mount the project in-house if no telecommunications company did not offer interesting. Some do already, such as the MRC of Bécancour or that of Montcalm with the project Fireflies.

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