Corp Comm Connects

Lines drawn in King Township fibre optic internet battle

Residents have both positive and negative experiences getting fibre optic internet
March 10, 2020
Laura Broadley

Susan Heslop has had a difficult experience getting fibre optic internet, to say the least.

The Schomberg resident has two different internet services going into her home, neither of which is on the fibre optic network.

“We can’t even watch two things at once,” Heslop said.

Heslop feels she’s been misled by internet companies which, she said, have told her she’s getting fibre optic internet for the last 10 years.

“They don’t deserve my business, absolutely not,” she said. “But you’re between a rock and a hard place.”

Lucy de Sa has a very different story.

De Sa has only had fibre optic internet in her Schomberg home for a few weeks, and so far, it’s been a good experience.

De Sa and her family are finishing construction on their home and only live there part-time.

“They were a little bit delayed with the installation. We predicted we were going to have it in June last year and it just got installed,” she said.

Despite the delays, de Sa said she was kept up-to-date from Vianet.

“I’ve had to call technical support once (since installation),” de Sa said. “I have no complaints so far.”

So far, the speed of the internet has been good, although the family hasn’t moved in completely yet.

“I haven’t run the full-blown house in the sense of TVs and everybody on at the same time because we’re not physically living there. We’re there on weekends, my kids are on tablets all day, my security system is connected to it, my cameras are connected to it,” de Sa said.

If there’s a delay in the service, de Sa gets a notification on her phone.

“It’s only happened once over the snow storm. It was brief, only 20 minutes or so,” she said.

Mayor Steve Pellegrini said fibre optic cable is currently being laid by crews in King.

“There is still more to go,” he said. “It’s happening, which is exciting for us.”

Pellegrini is the vice-chair of YorkNet, the region-owned corporation started in 2017 that manages and maintains a fibre optic network across York Region.

Residents of King aren’t happy with high-speed internet, Pellegrini said.

“People want lightening fibre,” he added.

One of the King success stories is in the community of Laskay, which came together to get fibre optic internet.

“The residents of Laskay all came together and said, ‘we’ll pay toward the capital costs.’ Bell, Rogers and Vianet all put in basic bids. They ended up going with Bell,” Pellegrini said.

Pellegrini said there is still a lot of work to be done to get everyone in King on a fibre optic network.

“The rural, the very remote people where there’s very few on a street --It’s very expensive for any of the providers,” he said. “These people are understandably upset.”

Often people in rural areas of King only have the option of low-speed internet at premium prices. Pellegrini saw the difference when his own rural home got fibre optic access.

“It’s like night and day. Once it’s in, the costs are a fraction,” he said.

YorkNet is trying to get more of the private sector involved to do what Pellegrini referred to as “the last mile.”

“We’re actually working where we can partner and provide this service to others.”