Mainland Telecom announces timeline and packages for Islands highspeed

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on May 4, 2014
Mainland Telecom plans to connect high speed Internet customers in Freeport and Westport first, then Tiverton and then the rest of the Islands.
Courtesy of Mainland Telecom

Mainland Telecom says they plan to start hooking up homes in Freeport and Westport for high-speed Internet in early June.

Chris Norman, chief technology officer with Mainland Telecom held two public meetings, one in Westport and one in Freeport, on Thursday evening, May 1 to announce the hook-up dates, the packages and pricing offers.

“We won’t make any promises we can’t keep,” he said. “We won’t promise we can provide 100 per cent coverage, but we will look at every case and we will do everything we can to bring you in as a customer.”

Norman says they hope to have optical fibre installed and to establish the microwave link from Clare to Freeport and Westport by June 3.

Their plan is to hook up customers in four or five phases.

First they’ll connect the homes on either side of Grand Passage around June 9.

Norman says at the same time they can start hooking up any homes in sight of the water on the southern coast of Long Island.

“We realized we can just shoot the signal across the water from Clare to any property in sight of the water,” said Norman.

They will start connecting homes in Tiverton in early July and homes in the middle and on the north side of Long Island in mid-August.

Mainland will also erect a tower on a high point of Brier Island to connect customers who might want service on the sparsely-populated back or western side of Brier starting in September.

Mainland’s packages start at $62.50 a month for a speed of 10 Mbsp down and 5 Mbsp up. Basic installations cost $100 and none of the plans have a data limit.

Their basic plans however won’t allow open wi-fi.

“Our business model is one home, one connection,” said Norman. “If people share the signal, then our business model will collapse. We’re going to be strict about this and we will be checking.”

Norman said most customers will be satisfied with the standard package but he presented four other packages for those who want higher speeds or even greater reliability: Max (20M/ 10M) and Max 3 (25M/ 10M) plus Business, Elite and Elite 3 (40M/ 40M).

The Elite 3 would cost $250 to install and $160 a month.

Mainland will be using a mix of unlicensed frequencies (for standard packages in easy to reach locations) and licensed frequencies, which enable them to use more power, over greater range and with more reliability.

Norman says Mainland’s system won’t be affected by fog, rain or snowstorms—they will be sending two streams of information across St. Mary’s Bay, which offers two distinct advantages.

It allows twice as much through-put but more importantly it offers redundancy: if one signal is interrupted, the other one can pick up and even reassemble lost information.

Mainland has some ideas for future products—when Norman visited Brier Island last summer he thought about bringing an RV there for a vacation.

Then he started thinking about a sort of clip-on device which businesses on the Islands could rent out to short-term visitors.

If the signal tests out as strong and reliable as Norman believes it will, they may in the future look at also offering telephones and telephone service.

For customer service, Norman says Mainland can check on their own equipment from Kentville and will be creating a system that’s robust enough to keep trips from Kentville for actual repairs to a minimum.

‘Every time we have to come down here, it’s a day, so we want to avoid that,” he said.

Everything inside the home will be the homeowner’s responsibility but Mainland plans to team up with reliable local subcontractors to provide IT support.

“We’ve had great support here on the Islands from day one and we’d like to keep it that way,” he said.

[RELATED: Internet a deal breaker on the Islands, Nov. 2013 ]