Tbnewswatch Local News
Thursday July 2 2015
7:09 PM EDT
2014-04-09 at 17:13

A need for speed

Sabrina Ree is one of 12 homeowners on Mud Lake Road that doesn
Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com
Sabrina Ree is one of 12 homeowners on Mud Lake Road that doesn't have access to high-speed Internet.
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

Sabrina Ree's job depends on her having access to the Internet.

As a breastfeeding peer mentor for the University of Toronto, Ree uses the web for teleconferences and other communication between Toronto and her Murillo home.

But her home is located on a 1.5-kilometre stretch of Mud Lake Road that falls into an Internet dead zone.

"I have been living on Mud Lake Road for seven years. I have been asking for Internet from Tbaytel for seven years," said Ree, who started a petition with a neighbour to get the local Internet service provider to bring high-speed web service to the 12 affected homes.

All houses on the stretch from John Street Road south to the train tracks don't have access to high-speed Internet - except for two.

"It's very frustrating because we have been trying and trying and nobody seems to be able to give us the right answer," said Ree.

Ree uses Xplornet, a rural broadband provider, but the service is slow, so she often relies on the data network on her smartphone.

So does her neighbour Amy Godwell.

"Our bill is insane. This month it's $180," said Godwell who lives on that same stretch of Mud Lake Road with her husband and two children.

They would normally use a computer to keep in touch with out-of-town family and to pay their bills.

"I have two children that will be going to school and will be needing it when they go," Godwell said, adding she also tried satellite Internet, but it cost more than using their data network.

Of the two homes that do have high-speed service, Ree said one has had it for four years and the other neighbour, the newest on the road, has had it since December of last year.

Tbaytel's corporate brand communication manager Katie Crowe said she believes the two houses on the road that have service are using a signal booster and that equipment isn't supplied or supported by Tbaytel.

And the level of service they are receiving isn't what the company would like it to be.

"A lot of the issues and challenges with providing services to more low density or rural areas include geographic distances from points of connection for the service as well as financial," said Crowe.

It's not about how close a residence is to a telephone pole or exchange point, but where they fall in the loop length from a connection point.

"This service delivery from an exchange is not in a linear pattern," said Crowe.

"There are gaps in the loop links and the distances between loops in some of our service areas and that's what presents some of the challenge in providing the service."

But hope is not lost for areas like Mud Lake Road.

"We do understand that high-speed Internet is becoming something that's essential in our daily lives so that is why it's something that's always on our radar, to see where those gaps exist and to see what we can do to bring service to those areas that are under-serviced," said Crowe.

Bringing service to those areas requires planning and resources and Crowe said they are looking to partner with the federal government under its Broadband Canada program for support to service areas like Mud Lake Road.

In the meantime, Ree and her neighbours still won't have the Internet service they want.

"I am obviously not going to move," she said. "I'm just going to have to suck it up with what I have."


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robert bob says:
As a follow up there are many choices and alternatives for Rural Broadband, not just Tbay Tel and or Shaw. But expect to pay a higher premium, don'e whine and expect to pay city prices. Old business models of cross subsidizing Rural price points from higher density city rates no longer apply.
4/11/2014 11:59:57 AM
raen_rfm says:
Ah yes, Tbaytel, Thunder Bay's whipping boy. The root of all things evil in Northwestern Ontario. Hard to believe this is newsworthy but because it's about Tbaytel it is, because it's the company that everyone loves to hate. For the complainers out there, you obviously have lived here all your life and have no clue what it's like on the "outside". You people have no idea how good you have it here. The biggest benefit being that at least with Tbaytel you're not dealing with a megalithic company that could give a rats behind about your problem. I've been there living in southwestern ontario. Tbaytel's products and prices are VERY competitive, but because it's a local company, it's somehow corrupt, or inept, or has some sort of agenda to screw over the taxpayers. If I had a company that relied on high speed internet access, I would not live in a remote or rural area, and if I did, I would have an office in town.
4/10/2014 3:45:22 PM
Recommended 1 times.  1  Agree
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rothmich says:
Protip: ALL of Northwestern Ontario only contains 225k people. You will not have the proper infrastructure in place to provide a normal standard of living to such a massive unpopulated area.

Your crappy roads, your high taxes, your expensive gas, your sporadic cell service... it's ALL because we live in isolation.
4/10/2014 2:15:49 PM
tbay1983 says:
If any company undertook projects that don't make financial sense they will not be in business for very long. How come no one mentions Shaw. They are a regional telecommunications provider with much deeper pockets. Do they have service out there? Why aren't they being petitioned to? There are other solutions that will work if you are willing to pay for it. I believe Tbay Tel's canopy service would work if you have cell coverage. There are other options if you talked to any of the local Communications companies. Rural communities and Northern Reserves that have internet service do so because the likes of Bell and Tbaytel receive funding from both the provincial and federal governments.
4/10/2014 2:06:01 PM
spazz says:
I can't say I'm surprised that the majority of comments on this story are negative, it wouldn't be tbnewswatch otherwise. What all of the people exercising their "righteous" indignation fail to understand is that the world is constantly evolving and so is the line between need and want. It is getting to a point where access to high speed internet is becoming necessary for people who want to do more than just troll news sites and spew angry rhetoric.

Some interesting reading:


And here's some related info although it's more focused on wireless/cell:

4/10/2014 1:38:53 PM
reese says:
Be glad you do not have 14 lines on one party line that is what rural life is all about fresh milk eggs and party lines

Dish network has sattelite internet no wires
try that
4/10/2014 1:21:12 PM
nads74 says:
I live just inside of city limits, my tbaytel highspeed internet is HORRIBLE. I call often and I mean at least once a week, and my bill is the exact same amount as someone in a brand new subdivision. For all of you defending tbaytel, get your head out of the clouds, they have horrible products and services. Oh and for those of you to say use your data on your phone...If that was reliable that would be great, again inside of city limits and that barely works not to mention I would if I wasn't locked into a crap contract with crap amount of data..Instead of being with their competitor with way more data usage! (counting the months)
4/10/2014 1:19:03 PM
spooner19 says:
I know people who have satellite internet and say it works very well, there are more providers for satellite than just Bell so you do have other options. I think the problem for Tbaytel is if they do it for you there are hundreds or thousands of similar situations in other rural areas. Do you do the same for everyone else that wants high speed in there area?
4/10/2014 12:20:47 PM
countryboy123 says:
I live in the country as well, which should come as no surprise due to my nickname. I use
Xplornet and am quite happy with it.
Costs me about $65/month for unlimited access. Is anybody else getting tired of all the whiners that are getting media attn in this City?
4/10/2014 11:39:55 AM
robert bob says:
The custoemr expecation then living in the Rural location should be to expect to PAY a premium price then for high speed service. If you choose to locate a business in an underserved area then expect to pay a major premium to have Tbay Tel provide you service. Taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing your business or residential high speed needs. Tbay tel could bond some copper pairs and offer you up a Multilink PPP service over existing coppper infrastructure for a premium price, don't expect to pay 39.99 a month living in a rural area. You could also pay to erect a small tower and try to microwave a signal to an existing Cell Tower but again its going to cost more than any in-town service. Really this is news that 13 homes don't have high speed internet. Maybe you should have lobbied the Federal Government Mr Harper and see if you can qualify for any of the 350 Million rural broadband Fund
4/10/2014 11:33:12 AM
countryguy2 says:
Seriously people? Telling this family to move because they don't have high speed internet, they live closer to town than a lot of people, it is only 15 minutes from town, but they don't have high speed, but you go to places outside ignace and upsala, and they have highspeed?? That makes no sense! I lived out a little passed Mudlake Rd, and our "high speed internet" was 1mbps..... It was pathetically slow, we didn't even have the luxury of cell service either, because we were "between towers" and just fell in a bad spot....again, all these towers around NW ontario, and we got crap. It is ridiculous that TBaytel doesn't increase their services in and around in these smaller municipalities around Thunder Bay!!
4/10/2014 11:12:49 AM
rob20 says:
Infrastructure costs LOTS of money... it's that simple.
4/10/2014 1:11:53 PM
moonpie says:
You buy a house in a rural area and then demand that city living be brought to your doorstep? There's a simple solution: Move, or deal with it.
4/10/2014 11:02:06 AM
rob20 says:
While I can appreciate the frustrations of no high-speed in 2014 you're in a rural area. I say again, A RURAL AREA. You likely chose to live there to be away from some of what comes with being in the city... well, it works two ways, you are also away from some stuff too. It is not reasonable to expect a service provider like Tbaytel to plunk down tens of thousands of dollars to expand service to 12-15 homes. That's absurd from a business viewpoint. Completely unrealistic expectations on the part of these people.
4/10/2014 10:54:00 AM
robert bob says:
More like over 150K to provide high speed service for less than 13 residents. What Price points are these homeowners willing to pay per Month. Don't expect to get the service for the same price at in town residents. ROI on this would be 10-12 years out.
4/10/2014 11:43:23 AM
nalmac says:
Those of you who already have high speed internet have no idea of how frustrating dealing with dial-up or satellite internet in a rural area is.
I live in an area off Mud Lake Road on John Street Road that can’t get high speed. My husband has lived there his entire life on property that has been in his family for almost 100 years. We don’t want to “leave the sticks” as has been suggested, this is our home and the comment about the great grandfather who lived here over a hundred years ago and not needing high speed is pretty ridiculous.
You are correct that there is satellite internet available. It is about as quick and reliable as the Rocket Hub from Tbaytel, which is what we are using, and just as expensive.
Tbaytel has touted how proud they are to have gotten high speed internet to remote communities. Imagine the ROI for that service.
It’s about time those people who have been supporting them for many years through telephone and dial-up service get the same access.
4/10/2014 9:53:24 AM
YellowSnow13 says:
Perhaps you should have an office in an area that has high speed Internet. If it is needed so bad go where it is. Why should Tbaytel have to step up?
4/10/2014 7:46:24 AM
sugar says:
What else is new with Tbay Tel.We switched to Bell for cell phone usage.Much better service.Switch to bell for internet if u can
4/10/2014 1:06:17 AM
boomer1 says:
I really think everyone should have fair treatment as two others have it on the road, why not give it to the rest??? Shame on TBAY TEL!!!
4/9/2014 11:20:44 PM
truthbtold says:
Please read the story. Other 2 have Internet because they bought boosters. Tbaytel says its unreliable = multiple calls to technical support = unhappy customers
4/9/2014 11:24:05 PM
reese says:
My great grandfather lived there in 1906 he did not need internet I see no problem he was capable of surviving
All these years i was told you have to tough to be a northerner
4/9/2014 9:41:07 PM
Escroft says:
I thought Bell had a Satellite Internet for Country Living??
4/9/2014 9:12:07 PM
Tbay1983 says:
If internet access is important perhaps they should move to an area where they can get it. It's not like they had it and it was taken away. I'm sure the ROI on 12 people paying $40 a month doesn't make sense. I don't like my neighbour. Guess what... I have a choice to move if it's that much of an inconvenience.
4/9/2014 7:35:52 PM
Wolfie says:
"If internet access is important perhaps they should move to an area where they can get it. It's not like they had it and it was taken away."

Exactly. What a non-story. No matter where you live, there are pros and cons. You can't have it all.
4/10/2014 8:55:34 AM
bkr9812 says:
Move out of the sticks.
4/9/2014 7:15:28 PM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
Well thought out comment!! I believe this woman's husband runs a fair sized business at this location that does not lend itself to simply moving to another location that has high speed. T.Bay Tel is the service provider for the area and they should make every effort within reason to provide the service...not everyone wants to live in a high rise at the waterfront.
4/10/2014 7:45:58 AM
S Duncan says:
Surely the liberal provincial government will step up with some nice plan to give you internet and buy your votes? no?
4/9/2014 5:24:25 PM
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