Colchester and Pictou Antigonish, Guysborough, Inverness and Richmond Victoria and Cape Breton Regional Municipality Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne and Yarmouth Digby, Annapolis, Kings and Hants With a successful broadband pilot project nearing completion, the province is ready to take the next step to make Nova Scotia the most connected area in all of North America. The province issued a request for proposals today, June 21, inviting qualified service providers to bring broadband Internet service to all unserved areas of Nova Scotia. “The success of the pilot has shown that we can deliver reliable service to rural areas of the province at a reasonable cost,” said Economic Development Minister Richard Hurlburt. “The next step is to get service providers involved so Nova Scotians get quality service at a price comparable to areas that already have broadband access.” With the lessons learned from the pilot and by investigating best practices from around the world, a business approach was developed, which will now be adapted for use across the province via the request for proposals process. To ensure the request for proposals offers a competitive opportunity to companies, the province has been broken down into seven zones, made up of one or more counties. Each zone is based on the number of unserved civic addresses. Zone one includes Cumberland County and the original pilot area. As permitted in the initial request for proposal for the pilot area, the province will enter into negotiations with the current service provider, Seaside Communications, following the provincewide request for proposals to provide broadband service to zone one. Zone seven includes 45 rural communities within Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). This zone has been awarded under a separate procurement process managed by the municipality. The province will work with HRM to ensure that anyone without broadband will have access by the end of 2009. Zones two through six make up the balance of the province and include the following counties: Companies submitting proposals have the opportunity to bid on one, some or all zones. Rollout of broadband service across zones one through six will begin at the same time starting this fall. Rob Laceby, an innkeeper located outside Amherst, was part of the pilot project and said access to broadband has made life much easier. “Our online reservation system is more efficient; we can get back to people faster,” said Mr. Laceby. “It’s awesome. If we weren’t able to get this, it would be harder and harder for us to compete for business.” Originally from Tennessee, and with a thriving business in Florida, Brenda Atherton lives four months of the year in the Port Howe area. “My husband and I have been coming to Nova Scotia for over 21 years; well before there was even dial-up service,” said Mrs. Atherton. “Now, with access to high-speed Internet, I can stay in close contact with my clients and still enjoy all that Nova Scotia has to offer. It has helped immensely.” The request for proposal is available through the public tenders office at 6176 Young St., Halifax, by calling 902-424-3333 or going online at www.gov.ns.ca/tenders . The closing date is Tuesday, July 31. High-speed Internet service is available to 78 per cent of the population in Nova Scotia. The expansion project will see the remaining areas of the province served by the end of 2009. Anyone not connected to broadband service is encouraged to submit their civic address. For more information on the province’s broadband expansion project and to register a civic address, go to www.gov.ns.ca/econ/broadband .