New Brunswick becomes Canada's leader in providing high-speed Internet access

ST. STEPHEN, NB, May 19 /CNW/ - A project to provide high-speed Internet access to all parts of the province will be complete two months ahead of schedule, making New Brunswick the first province to have broadband service available to all homes and businesses.

Multimedia: http://www1.gnb.ca/cnb/multimedia/display-e.asp?id=2481&num=1

Premier Shawn Graham made the announcement today along with Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet; and Bill Barrett, chair of Barrett Xplore Inc.

"We know New Brunswickers can succeed if they have the tools to participate fully in the global economy," said Graham. "Our investment in this project ensures all rural residents can seize every opportunity available to them to improve their education, maximize their employment options, take their businesses online and make the most of enhanced government services. We are proud to be the first in Canada to accomplish this goal and look forward to other provinces following our lead."

In February 2009, the provincial government committed $13 million to a project with the company based in Woodstock to provide access to fixed wireless and satellite Internet to the 10 per cent of New Brunswickers who did not already have it. The deadline to complete the project was this July but the project will be complete by the end of the month.

The company is offering access to high-speed Internet through a network of 161 towers throughout the province and by satellite in some of the most difficult to reach areas.

"Congratulations to Premier Graham and the Province of New Brunswick for having had the vision and tenacity to complete this historic project - Canada's first fully broadband-enabled province," said Barrett. "Barrett Xplore Inc. is honoured to have been selected to assist with this project. It has long been our belief that only a hybrid-technology solution - such as our fixed wireless/satellite approach - can truly succeed in providing complete coverage in rural areas. The response to the service has been tremendous, with one-third of New Brunswick residents who were previously without broadband access having signed-up with Xplornet."

The government's investment means that new customers pay $99 for installation, regardless of where they live or the type of technology offered. Customers then pay $44.99 a month for fixed wireless service or $49.99 for satellite access to the Internet for the basic package.

"We are pleased to celebrate this major milestone at Loon Bay Lodge, a historic inn on the banks of the famous St. Croix River," said Tourism and Parks Minister Brian Kenny. "Having access to broadband Internet will give a new tool to our tourism operators, helping them to market their products online and ensure even more success for operators such as this one."

The provincial government recently renewed its partnership with Bell Aliant to provide broadband network in cities throughout the province.

Bell Aliant is developing a Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) network to Saint John, Fredericton, Bathurst, Miramichi and Greater Moncton, making it the first telecommunications company in Canada to offer citywide coverage with FTTH technology.

New Brunswick will be honoured for its investments in the broadband economy on Friday, May 21, when Graham accepts an award for Visionary of the Year from the Intelligent Communities Forum in New York City.

"Through this project and others, we are building a strong, diversified knowledge economy that will lead us toward our goal of self-sufficiency," said Graham. "Our connected communities are giving skilled New Brunswickers a reason to come home and helping our young people make the decision to stay."

SOURCE Government of New Brunswick

For further information: For further information: Media: Ashley Bursey, communications, Business New Brunswick, (506) 461-0942, ashley.bursey@gnb.ca

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