The Association of Manitoba Municipalities has praised the Manitoba government’s deal with Xplornet Communications to improve rural internet and cellular coverage throughout the province.
In a tweet May 13, the AMM thanked Central Services Minister Reg Helwer for signing a memo of understanding with the internet service provider.
The province says the deal will bring broadband to about 300 rural and northern communities, including 30 First Nations, and will serve 350 communities with cellphone access, according to a May 13 news release.
It’s not clear how many of these communities do not have reliable internet or cellular service — Steinbach is on the list.
Xplornet will use surplus fibre-optic cable and infrastructure Manitoba Hydro owns throughout the province to expand its network.
“Access to Manitoba Hydro’s fibre-optic network and tower infrastructure will also greatly reduce the capital investments Xplornet needs to expand into rural and remote communities, allowing for a positive return on investment and the quick delivery of service to Manitobans,” said Helwer in a news release May 13.
Not all rural residents were pleased to hear the news.
“Their customer service is the worst I’ve ever had,” one woman commented on a Facebook post from Steinbach news outlet Steinbach Online. “I have to walk down my driveway in order to make calls to Xplornet when our service is down and then they argue that I need to be near my modem.”
The southeast corner of the province has long struggled with patchy internet and cellular service, as do many areas of rural and northern Manitoba.
“Partnering with the worst internet provider there is. Good luck,” said another commenter on the same Facebook page.
“What a disappointment,” a farmer wrote on Twitter.
Details of the agreement are still being finalized, the province said in a news release. It did not say when work will begin on the new project.