Why Are We Lagging Behind the Technological Times? – 111 Years Ago the First Transatlantic Wireless Signal sent from Signal Hill, NL

Signal Hill was the reception point of the first transatlantic wireless signal by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901. It is also the place of a rich military history, historic walking trails and panoramic views of the harbour, city and craggy landscapes of the “Rock” we call home.

I could not resist bring my European friends to the edge of Cabot Tower and let their eyes widen with “wow”! Although, I must admit we were a little unprepared for the bone chilling wind that gnawed at one’s ear. The visit ended a little shorter than I would have liked, although we managed a number of breathtaking photos.

This place is of significance – because more than 100 years ago the very first transatlantic wireless signal was sent from this very place. We have been a century later and we still lag behind when it comes to telecommunication service in this province. With th Provincial Government touting 85% coverage for broadband internet as something we are supposed to be impressed by? We are still significantly behind?

We need to continue to re-invest in broadband initiatives and address poor cell coverage is in vast reaching parts of Newfoundland & Labrador. I do not have to go far in the District of the Straits-White Bay North before you lose cell coverage – Route 430 from St. Anthony Airport to St. Anthony pretty nil, the route to including the Town of Cook’s Harbour, Wild Bight and North Boat Harbour does not have such service, the road and communities Croque, Grandcois and Town of Conche also lacks service. The Route to L’Anse au Meadows and the Town of St. Lunaire -Griquet is also a trying place to access cell coverage.  Route 432 to Main Brook also has poor to no coverage which takes one to Plum Point. There are other places. Further up the Great Northern Peninsula also lacks cell coverage, the TCH has places where there are complete dead spots. What is the Provincial Government doing to address this issue? I asked what the Federal Government is doing and apparently it is not on their agenda. Why is it something that is significantly on the agenda for the province of British Columbia?

The Government of BC is investment $100 Million per year for 10 years to ensure 1,700 kms of highway has cell coverage within 5 years to improve public safety. Where is the Newfoundland & Labrador Government & their strategic telecommunications plan? I suspect we do not have one and continue to deal with this matter in a piecemeal fashion. I am calling on the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development for an answer, present your plan. A letter will be sent to this Department.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

The following is taken from (http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2011LCITZ0015-000799.htm):

Notice of Intent posted for telecommunications contract

 VICTORIA – Following a three-year negotiated request for proposals (NRFP) process, the Ministry of Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government posted a Notice of Intent today to award a 10-year strategic telecommunications services contract worth approximately $100 million per year to TELUS.

 This contract will provide telecommunications and strategic services to government and its broader public sector partners, while expanding high-speed Internet connections for families and businesses in rural and remote B.C. and expanding cellular coverage along highways across the province.

 When TELUS was the successful bidder on all nine individual bundles of services in the NRFP as well as on the total package of combined services, it became clear to government that, instead of awarding the bundles separately, a stronger partnership with TELUS could realize a greater overall benefit to families and businesses in B.C.

 In pursuing this broader, more strategic contract, the Province believes it has achieved greater long-term value for B.C. taxpayers. For example, this contract will:

  • Upgrade almost 450 schools to high-speed fibre optic cables to enable faster access to information for our youngest learners.
  • Provide over 1,700 kilometres of new cellular coverage along unconnected highway segments within five years to improve public safety.
  • Establish a Strategic Investment Fund, setting out a minimum of $80 million for initiatives aimed at transforming and improving service delivery for government, families and businesses around B.C.
  • Save B.C. $8.5 million in the first year alone and, based on the Province’s historical growth patterns, could save a total of $400 million over the life of the contract.

 Currently, 93 per cent of British Columbians have access to broadband Internet. By combining all of the existing telecommunications spending done by government through this contract, the Province is committed to expanding high-speed connectivity to 97 per cent of British Columbians. This would ensure the province remains one of the most connected jurisdictions in the world.

 Specifically, through this contract, 119 designated rural and remote communities across B.C. will have their Internet connection bandwidth increased up to ten times the current speed to enable broader access for families and businesses. As well, this contract will maintain affordable wholesale Internet access for regional service providers so they can continue to provide last-mile coverage for rural and remote British Columbians.

This contract covers long distance, conferencing, voice, data, cellular and strategic services for core government, the six regional health authorities, BC Hydro, WorkSafeBC, the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) and BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC).

The Notice of Intent can be viewed at www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca.



  1. NFL needs modern mobile broadband networks, no doubt. But the mistakes BC (and other governments) made should not be repeated in NFL. A network that is not economically vialbe per se but is build because the government requests it and pays for it, should be open to use by ALL telecommunications providers under the SAME terms and conditions – at least until it is written off. It should not give one company a competitive edge, as this will lead to reduced competition to the detriment of all citizens (read: higher fees).

    You wouldn’t start a public privat partnership to build a bridge or highway that is only open to Volkswagens. 🙂 Likewise, a public privat partnership network for communication services should not only be open to Telus customers, but also to the Roger, Eastlink, Wind, Mobilicity, Sasktel, younameit and even Public Mobile users (though they probably won’t have the right device anyway – you can’t drive a highway with a slow tractor, eh).

    This would also open more possibilities in the bidding process: You would not have to choose only between Rogers, Telus/Bell and (maybe) Eastlink (Bragg) in Newfoundland. You could also talk to Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Motorola, Huawei, ZTE, Alcatel-Lucent, etc. They run networks in various countries but don’t deal with end customers. This is where the aforementioned providers would step in.

    1. Hi Daniel AJ –

      Thank you for your comments. You are correct, Newfoundland & Labraodr needs modern mobile broadband networks. I have outlined how BC is moving forward on advancing strategic telecommunications. We must indeed not make similar mistakes of offering an exclusive contract. The network infrastructure must be developed, it should be to the benefit of any service provide to have equal access to infrastructre. If we create monopolistic environments we indeed eliminate competition and are at the mercy of just one service provider. They than can easily say there is no business case for this community or these few kilometers.

      I appreciate the feedback and hope you keep posting as you appear to be well informed on the subject matter.


      Christopher 🙂

  2. Please don’t get me started…..We need leaders that has a vision for Newfoundland, not ones that’s attached to strings and controlled from Upper Canada. We know what the current “Puppet Master” (Harper) think of this Island and it’s people; Nomads for Alberta’s Tar Sands.
    My comment deals with current and future development within our Great Land; Oil, Gas, Minerals, Telecommunications etc. Problem with Newfoundlander’s is they build a great car, but forget to construct roads to travel on….:)

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