Eskasoni businesses ‘level up’ with high-speed fibre optic internet

The Mi’kmaw community of Eskasoni, N.S., is well on its way to having all of its residents hooked up to high-speed fibre optic internet.

Eskasoni’s chief and council set a goal a few years ago to provide all band members with fibre optic service.

“So far we’ve got about 850 [homes] of the potential 1,100 that are installed and receiving the service,” Steve Parsons, CEO for Eskasoni’s corporate division, told CBC’s Information Morning Cape Breton.

Last year, the band formed its own telecommunications company, with funding from both the federal and provincial governments.

Community installation

It also partnered with Sydney-based Seaside Communications.

Seaside ran the fibre optic cable from Sydney to Eskasoni. Now Eskasoni workers are doing the installations.

“We have four technicians from the community that were formally trained by Bell years ago,” said Parsons. “So these young men are working for Eskasoni. They each have a van to go around. They’re all trained, certified. And they’re actually installing their own families in some cases.”

Loran Tweedie and Chief Leroy Denny sign a partnership between Eskasoni Communications and Seaside Communications in June 2020. (Brent Kelloway/CBC)

Mariah Battiste runs an online beading supplies business out of her home called Sundaylace Creations.

Her current high-speed internet service from Bell was adequate in the past, but her business is outgrowing it.

“Everything depends on the internet,” she said, “from shipping out labels, to the social media. We have four phones, plus three computers, two iPads, two printers; everything is draining the internet.”

She’s still waiting for fibre optic installation at her home, but she’s been trying out her neighbour’s fibre optic service, and has noticed a difference.

“I would say that with the fibre optic, it’s something that will level me up.”

Wagmatcook could be next

The remainder of the community’s 1,100 homes should be hooked up in the next few weeks, said Parsons.

Once that’s done, Eskasoni may consider offering fibre optic service to other communities.

That is an option under its licence with CRTC.

“Our goal initially was to do the community and then offer the same said services to other First Nations,” said Parsons. “We could offer the same service to Wagmatcook, for example.”

Eskasoni would have to pay the capital cost to get the cable there, he said.

“But the fact that you can do it under the rules of engagement today as an ISP provider, that’s always an option.”



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