ANTIGONISH: Bell claims it is serving more underserved locations across the province.

The Municipality of the County of Antigonish announced Jan. 6 an additional 500 new addresses throughout the municipality are now able to connect to Bell’s FIBE service.

“Having 500 new homes able to reach speeds that in today’s world are necessary is so good to see,” strategic initiatives coordinator Shirlyn Donovan told The Reporter. “Many other areas in Antigonish County have been identified through phase 2 and the phase 2 expansion to receive the service so there are many more areas to come that will see improved service.”

In an update from Bell, the communications company said they “appear to be in the home stretch” on the phase 1 projects – Malignant Cove and Goshen – as most of the Nova Scotia Power work is now completed.

Bell also highlighted another 700 homes will follow in the coming months.

For Goshen, Bell completed two-of-the-four Fibre Serving Areas (FSA) in December for a total of 281 civic addresses. There are 12 outstanding civic addresses in these two areas that still are not eligible, but will be completed in February. The remaining two areas should be completed in January.

For the Doctor’s Brook/Malignant Cove project, Bell connected 214 new addresses with FIBE service. Bell indicated they are planning on completing the remaining areas in January and picking up any partial areas in February.

“When work places were shut down in March and people were asked to work, learn and run businesses from home there were many people who had a very difficult time doing so,” Donovan said. “The speeds in many areas of rural Nova Scotia are just not fast enough and with the surge in people trying to connect during the day it made it nearly impossible.

She said it’s important to that residents are connected with good speeds and bandwidth.

With the addition of the new service areas in Malignant Cove and Goshen, Bell is providing fiber connectivity to roughly 2,000 total homes and businesses throughout Antigonish County.

“We still have many areas that are waiting to be connected but thankfully most have been identified through phase 2 and the phase 2 expansion project,” Donovan said. “Once these areas are covered, it will take us very close to 100 per cent coverage in Antigonish County.”

Bell is also bringing the fiber-op network to approximately 1,100 homes and business in communities across Antigonish County in the round 2 expansion and will include; Fairmont, Southside Harbour, Monks Head, Keppoch Mountain, Addington Forks, Ohio, Hillcrest, Ashdale, Pinevale, South Salt Springs, Caledonia Mills, Lower Springfield, Pleasant Valley, Brierly Brook, and Auld’s Cove.

The maps and timelines for Round 2 are still in development and will be posted to the municipality’s Web site as soon as they have them. For the Round 2 Scope Expansion Projects, it is expected all homes and businesses covered by these extensions will have access to improved network by late 2023.

This expansion received funding from Develop Nova Scotia’s Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative.