Aliant expands high-speed access throughout Atlantic Canada

Aliant Inc. announced on Thursday that it is expanding its plans to offer high-speed Internet access throughout Atlantic Canada.

The Maritime-based communications provider said it is investing $12.6 million in the first six months of 2004 in an effort to deliver high-speed access to 40,000 more homes and an additional 1,600 businesses throughout the region.

According to Aliant, 85 per cent of business lines will have access to the company’s high-speed service by June of this year.

Since the beginning of 2004, a total of 10 communities in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia have received high-speed access with approximately an additional 47 communities to receive the service this year.

Mark Quigley, research director, telecom, at The Yankee Group in Ottawa said that it is no surprise that Aliant is expanding its high-speed footprint. He added that when taking a look at practically every carrier in Canada, what Aliant is doing is “part and parcel” with everyone’s plans to continue to offer this service to a larger population base.

What is interesting about Aliant, according to Quigley, is that in its territory it is faced with some of the most robust competition in the Canadian marketplace from Maritime owned and operated EastLink Cable. EastLink has been offering high-speed, along with cable and local distance telephony service for some time.

Because EastLink is privately held and doesn’t report its numbers, Quigley said it is hard to say how it compares with Aliant, but noted that the “anecdotal” information he has heard suggests that EastLink has managed to get 25 to 30 per cent of the market for local telephony services, and a lot of that has been bundled with high-speed services.

Although EastLink is a fierce competitor, Quigley said that Aliant is still doing very well in the market. He noted that Aliant’s subscriber growth for high-speed offerings is strong, adding that, continuing to increase the population base that high-speed address certainly helps Aliant greatly.

“I suspect that in some of those areas, there is probably still some pent up demand that folks have not had high-speed access alternatives presented to them,” Quigley said. “That should help their numbers as well.”

Earlier this month Aliant made headlines with an announcement that it was starting a six-month trial launch of a free Wi-Fi service in Atlantic Canada. Aliant’s hotspots will be in areas heavily populated by commuters, including Halifax International Airport, St. John’s International Airport and Greater Moncton International Airport.

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