Lisa Gervais: GoFundMe for county internet?
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | April 5, 2018|
When I saw Amanda Robinson’s GoFundMe campaign last week, I had a good laugh.
And, that was part of what the Haliburton County businesswoman hoped to achieve.
For those who don’t know, here’s the story.
Robinson got a call from Bell Mobility notifying her she was at a nearly $600 bill for data usage in March, with eight days to go on her billing cycle.
She was flabergasted.
Robinson works from home and purchased an internet data hub a few months ago. In her words, it was a bandaid solution for shaky internet at the cottage while waiting for the condo repairs to be complete after a catastrophic flood in early January.
She called Bell back. She had purchased a plan for 50-100GB at $145. For each GB she went over 100, she would be charged $5.
She and detective friends figured out that 103GB is actually 196GB, according to the bill’s extra charges section. And, her bill was indeed $559.85.
She says she called Bell customer support and after a long talk, they knocked $279 off the bill.
Still, she said it goes down in history as the most expensive single month internet of her life.
“If you need me, I’ll be on dial up drinking wine”, she joked.
So, she created the GoFundMe campaign, asking for $147, which was the difference between what she would normally be paying, $145, and her now reduced bill of $279. Plus the campaign charges.
Needless to say, she reached her goal very quickly.
While no doubt it was a bit of fun, Robinson’s plight highlights a continuing problem in Haliburton County for
numerous full-time and seasonal residents.
This paper has run a number of stories about frustrated entrepreneurs trying to work from home and compete in a global market, only to be stalled by dodgy internet. Full-time residents are constantly writing letter to complain about the lack of service but the high price. And, we’ve all seen the cottagers who descend on our
librarires in summer for the free Wi-Fi.
When it comes to internet and cell phone capability, Haliburton County is a third world country.
So, perhaps the best news in the Liberal provincial budget handed down last week is a commitment of $500 million, over three years, to enhance broadband in northern and rural communities. Notably, there was mention of specific investments aimed at improving Eastern Ontario’s cellular coverage and money to support the development of a satellite network that will provide internet access to remote communites.
We’d feel better about this if the other parties vying for office in June echoed the Liberals’ commitment, but at least it is more on the radar now than it has ever been before.
It doesn’t mean Robinson is suddenly going to get affordable, reliable, high speed internet at the cottage but it could mean that she will one day within the next three to five years. It isn’t a GoFundMe type of windfall, but at least it’s a start. In the meantime, maybe the rest of us
can begin a campaign to help us fund the current high cost of our unreliable, low speed internet. Who knows ... maybe the premier will kick things off by donating a few bucks to our cause.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.