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Universal High-speed Broadband Vital to Global Competitiveness: Mitchelmore

For Immediate Release

November 5, 2013

Universal High-speed Broadband Vital to Global Competitiveness: Mitchelmore

Independent Member Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) calls on Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development to place greater emphasis on universal high-speed broadband.

“Broadband builds stronger economies, supports commerce, educates students and is vital to advancing community development’ says Mitchelmore. “On November 1st the Minister stated the Government was well on target to reach 95 per cent coverage for the province by 2014.”

Newfoundland and Labrador are not leaders in high-speed broadband, even if 95 percent of households will have basic broadband access by end of 2014. Nearly 200 communities are still unable to access high-speed internet and only two-thirds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have access to broadband at speeds greater than 10 Mbps. These statistics are bleak when we consider rural broadband speeds.

Despite the Province investing millions in a rural broadband initiative, the lack of a complete strategy has resulted in missed funding opportunities, failure to develop mapping of current broadband availability and speed, as well as, a plan to achieve universal access under a timeline to meet these critical goals.

The District of the Straits-White Bay North was an early adopter of Federal funding that added high-speed Internet to 36 communities of the Great Northern Peninsula in 2005. Nearly a decade later, communities of Bide Arm, St. Julien’s, Pine’s Cove, Eddies Cove East, St. Carol’s, St. Anthony Bight, Great Brehat, Goose Cove and North Boat Harbour remain without service.

“The province needs to build stronger partnerships between the public, private sector and community groups to advance universal broadband,” said Mitchelmore. “It’s time to develop and make public a mapping model that shares information, encourages collaboration among providers and ensures we get best value for our tax dollar invested to bring broadband access to the remaining communities without it.”

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
Tel: 1-888-729-6091
Email: cmitchelmore@gov.nl.ca

Wi-fi Area Gratuito – A Must If You’re In The People Business

Wi-fi is certainly a must for today’s traveler. We are more connected than ever. If we are not providing such connectivity, not only are we impacting the experience of the current visitor, we are losing a valuable marketing tool to promote our region to gain new visitors and also encourage repeat visits.

This past summer, when I visited Olbia on the island of Sardinia, Italy I took the bus to the shopping centre on the outskirts of Town. This mall called “auchan” had designated “Wi-fi Area Gratuito” (free wifi hot spots) clearly designated to sit and connect. I was greatly impressed and stopped to use this added service.

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Additionally, the sign had a bar code to scan which notes the arrival of the app outlining the shops and service offering at the shopping centre. As society becomes more and more connected, we need to also move in that direction where we use technology.

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I departed from Deer Lake Regional Airport. It offers free wi-fi, which is very important to me as a traveller. I would like to see free (no log-in) wi-fi at all airports in Newfoundland & Labrador and more public spaces.

Some of our local businesses on the Great Northern Peninsula have implemented such an offering. I remember this summer in Conche, a community without cellular coverage,  provided me the opportunity to use free wi-fi at the Bits n’ Pieces Cafe or The French Shore Interpretation Centre as a means to stay connected and promote the region. As well, a  recent sign clearly marked that the Daily Catch Restaurant in St. Lunaire-Griquet also offers this free service. One of the early adopters of this free service was The Dark Tickle Company also in St. Lunaire-Griquet.

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Regions that lack cellular coverage and have access to Broadband Internet especially are driven to provide such a free service to customers. However, even in cellular regions visitors are quite happy to switch to free wi-fi to reduce their data roaming usage, which comes with a high fee. I encourage businesses, Municipalities to adapt and create more wi-fi around their place of business and in public space as a means to increase the local and visitor experience on the Great Northern Peninsula. This is a low-cost step to ensuring we build stronger, more vibrant economies.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White North
NDP Innovation, Business & Rural Development critic

The Loss of the General Store

 

John Reeves Ltd., a family run enterprise may have closed its post in the Town of Conche many years ago, but there is still a place for the General Store in many of our Rural  communities. These businesses thrive to supply the local consumer with all their essential wares from dry goods, hardware, fresh produce to rubber boots. Without their presence, many goods would be more difficult to obtain.

 

John Reeves Ltd., Conche

My community like many others see the loss of the general store.  There were five small businesses that aimed to fill that  market, pre-1992 cod moratorium. Green Island Cove at that time only boasted  a population of 209 people (according to Stats Canada, 1991 census) today we have only one General Store with a population of 164 people. It currently is all that the community can support.

 
Today the General Store faces many more challenges than just concern for the local competitor. Transportation networks have made local consumer’s more mobile. Currently consumer’s demand lower prices and greater variety which places pressure on the local small business. Additionally, the small business is faced with the added cost of transportation for shipping goods (fuel surcharges), credit card/debit fees, minimum wage of $10.00 per hour, increasing electricity rates and high-levels of taxation. Beyond these factors, the local General Store now competes with on-line retailers, sometimes in an unfair climate – as they do not have access to Broadband Internet. Investment in Tele-communications and Broadband Internet is required to enable communities to advance the current business community and serve the people.
 
I commend those who endeavor to operate a General Store in a rural setting. One of the reasons the General Store has been successful, is their ability to provide a high-level of customer service. They listen to their customers and bring items in upon their request. Another service offered is grocery delivery to local customers. This simple idea is a benefit of shopping local, as you would never get this from a Big Box Store. There are innovative ways to continue to sell in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
 
Live Rural NL
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
 
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