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Poor internet service has business owner Cape Breton thinking about the move



Poor internet service leads small business owner in Cape Breton to rethink its future on the island.

Sarah Rankin runs a graphic design and web company in Mabu.

She signs up for high-speed internet, but says it's not working properly. The company changed its modem several times, but she said the situation was no better.

Rankin said her business depends on a fast connection.

'Incredibly frustrating'

"It affects me personally every day," Rankin said.

Rankin works in design and that means large files. "It is incredibly frustrating for me when I can't put up, I take over [and] open email »

She said Skype's calls with clients in Boston and Toronto are falling apart and it is difficult to understand why.

Rankin said he is considering moving to mainland Nova Scotia if something is not done next year.

"I love living in Cape Breton, but unfortunately that pushes me to the point where I have to think about working in a lifestyle."

Inverness manager Betty Ann McQuary says many residents in the county are frustrated with the poor, or not, internet service. (Inverness County Municipality)

Inverness County Superintendent said Rankin's appeal was not isolated.

Betty Ann McQuary said internet service is a problem in the whole area.

"We hear frustration from our residents, some who have no internet," McQuary said.

She said the council invited Bell to a future council meeting to discuss the situation.

She said the district is also talking about the Internet with Nova Scotia Development, the provincial corporation of Crown which is responsible for developing a strategy for expanding high-speed Internet access to insufficient communities.

Rankin said he had to resort to extreme measures at times to get his job done. She said she went to the former high school during the day to use their fiber optic connection.

"But in the summer, I sit on the ground behind high school because that was the only place where I could get fiber optic to meet my deadline," Rankin said.

"So I did business behind my old high school, which is crazy, but you have to do what you need to meet the deadline."

Rankin said the Internet problem would deter people from starting an island business and may force some people to leave.

"So if we promote Cape Breton as a place to do business, this is something they need to fix."

In an email to the CBC, Bell Alliance did not comment specifically on Rankin's complaint.

But spokeswoman Katie Jatfield said advanced broadband networks can be "quite expensive" and it can be difficult to build a business case for "sparsely populated areas".

Hatfield said the company will monitor the situation with the municipality.

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