An internet co-operative in Saint-Anicet?

The municipal Town Hall in Saint-Anicet was packed on the evening of April 5 as over one hundred citizens had come to learn about a project to create an internet service co-operative offering fibre optic connections at a reasonable price throughout the municipality.

At the invitation of municipal councillor Jean Roblain, a representative from the Coop CSUR, Réjean Sauvé, was on hand to discuss the internet co-operative, now in its eleventh year serving close to 1000 members in Très-Saint-Rédempteur. Members benefit from a multiservice network including internet, telephone and television that relies mainly on ultra-performing fibre optic cables.

During a question period, the majority of the people gathered in the room expressed their dissatisfaction with the internet services currently available in Saint-Anicet. “In 2017, we can no longer accept slow or unstable internet services or wait in vain for large internet companies who are not interested in offering services in less populated areas,” was, in essence, the position voiced by those in attendance.

Réjean Sauvé replied that his co-operative serves all residents within his territory, even those living in the most remote corners. “Moreover, as the co-operative returns all profit to members, we can offer lower rates than the competition if we have the numbers,” he explained.

In order to ensure the profitability of the co-operative, it would be necessary to have at least 400 members. The municipality of Saint-Anicet has a population of 1,828 residents and includes 128 kilometres of territory. Fibre-optic installation costs are estimated at $12,000 per kilometre, which represents an investment of approximately $1,500,000. Grants are currently available from both the provincial and federal governments in this regard, however, in order to qualify, the project must be submitted by April 20, 2017.

An internet co-operative in Saint-Anicet?

For this reason, Councillor Roblain, a retired engineer who has been working on this project for the past three years, is calling on at least 50 volunteers to do a web speed test from their home terminal. The results of these tests will be included with the grant application. Citizens interested in administering the test are asked to contact Clément Costanza, Director of Citizen Services with the municipality of Saint-Anicet.

“Paying for efficient internet service by yourself is much more difficult,” says Sauvé, of the Co-operative CSUR. “By taking charge of your internet services, with a non-profit co-operative, is a promising avenue. For 11 years, it has been our reality in Très-Saint-Rédempteur, and it can become your reality in Saint-Anicet.”

Denise St-Germain, Volunteer Correspondent for the Haut-Saint-Laurent
Translated by Sarah Rennie, Volunteer Correspondent for the Haut-Saint-Laurent
Photographer: Lise Guinard

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