Fort St. James residents are being asked to test their internet speeds, as officials are claiming unrealistic data has been cited by Telus in some rural northern communities. The telecom operator denies the accusations.
Mayor Bob Motion, District of Fort St. James, said “Telus knows full well that the minimum service levels of 50mb up and 10mb down are only available to a small number of homes in Fort St. James, but they completed the community broadband maps that the government is using for community eligibility purposes stating that our entire community was already receiving internet at a 50/10 level.”
Telus spokesperson Richard Gilhooley responded to Courier questions, saying Telus has not misreported prospective speeds on community broadband maps.
“The maps provide prospective speeds for both wireless and wireline connections, and notably, also include the connectivity capacity of acquisitions Telus has made in the area, such as Mascon, which offers service throughout Fort St. James up to 120 Mbps, in addition to our existing Telus footprint,” Gilhooley added.
“On top of this, there are numerous variables that contribute to broadband speed, including the device being used, VPN usage, how Wi-Fi is placed an configured within a home, and the amount of bandwidth being used at the time of a speed test.”
Responding to Gilhooley’s comment, Motion said, “… Telus and Mascon always state speeds up to 120 mb per second. I have Mascon. The fastest I have ever had is 50 down and 4 up and most of the time my speed comes in at 17 to 25 mbs.”
Motion said the community will not be eligible to apply for the federal $1.75-billion rural internet improvement fund.
The district is urging one in five households within the municipality and Nak’azdli Whut’en boundaries, to test their internet speed. The test must be conducted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. or 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Due to COVID restrictions, volunteers are reluctant to go door-to-door. Hence, the District has decided to have residents self report internet speeds.
According to a Facebook post by district officials Feb. 26, the first 170 households will be given a $20 Save-on-Foods or Sana’aih Market Gift card for their help.
Interested individuals can find the instructions/survey on the website www.fortstjames.ca and District’s Facebook page.