Where is DSL not available on Prince Edward Island?

I got an email late last week of the sort that I’d like to receive every week but that, alas, are very rare.  Art Ortenburger, a home-schooled teenager from Bonshaw, lives in an area of Prince Edward Island where Bell Aliant isn’t currently providing broadband infrastructure  (despite promising end-to-end broadband for the Island by the end of 2009).

Art was curious to know exactly how many addresses on the Island were in the same boat, and, being a sharp guy, he set out to use Aliant’s own lookup tool to find out.

Art wrote a well-crafted set of automated tools that takes every civic address in the freely-available PEI Civic Address Database and submits each one to Aliant’s web page.  That page responds with either “Congratulations! You can choose from the following list of services currently available to you…” or “Your address … does not currently qualify for Bell Aliant High Speed Internet service.”

Art’s “bot” is well-tempered: it only submits one query a second, so it takes several days to run. And this left Art with a problem: he didn’t have a server on which to host the tool. And so he got in touch with me.

I was happy to provide a mechanism for the tool to do its work, and on Friday night I fired up an Amazon EC2 instance and set the script running. Three days later, the results were:

  • Total Addresses: 68,040
  • Addresses with no DSL: 10,439
  • Addresses with Basic DSL: 19,559
  • Addresses with Ultra DSL: 38,039

Here’s what a Google Earth map of the addressed with no DSL service looks like (click the image for a larger version):

If you’re interested and have Google Earth yourself, download the Google Earth file of the no-DSL addresses and zoom in to any area of the province to see the situation in detail.

Keep in mind, of course, that what Art’s tool looks up is civic addresses, not “households that might want to have broadband Internet installed,” and so among those 10,439 non-served addresses are everything from vacant lots to barns (although what farmer in their right mind doesn’t want DSL in the barn these days).

Art has released his complete toolset with a GNU open source license so you can see how the magic works, run the bot yourself, or just get some ideas on how to write automated tools in Python.


Matt's picture
Matt on February 4, 2010 - 16:30 Permalink

Interesting…. although I know that some areas indicated on this map do actually have broadband from Aliant — for example the Savage Harbour area has been connected for about 2 months, but the map doesn’t indicate this. I suspect that BellAliant doesn’t have their database information current in terms of service availability.

Mary Burke's picture
Mary Burke on February 4, 2010 - 19:23 Permalink

We have “broadband” with Ruranet (from a tower, which is iffy in wind and bad weather, and cuts out all the time), and if it were a bit more reliable I wouldn’t care that Aliant hasn’t bothered to service my area — Rt. 19 at Rt 19A on the South Shore. No dongles for us either, as we have no cell phone service here.

Industry Canada’s map is pants because there are many areas besides parts of Kings Co. which don’t have broadband. I’d be happy to pay Wayne Phelan (rather than Aliant) for hard-wired service but until Aliant runs the wires Wayne can’t buy it and re-sell to me.

Stephen Pate's picture
Stephen Pate on February 4, 2010 - 19:36 Permalink

The Industry Canada map is a) not easy to read (once you zoom in the legend is way off screen b) static. The Google Earth interface may not be accurate but we are always impressed by technology.

LC's picture
LC on February 4, 2010 - 23:29 Permalink

Suffice to say the number of households without hard wired Broadband is far far greater than the ridiculous lowball figure of 200 that Aliant was trying to sell to us — having a promise being broken and then being bold faced lied to is hard to take and that has fueled the anger that Islanders feel towards this monopoly

Chuck's picture
Chuck on February 10, 2010 - 11:58 Permalink

Fantastic work! Thanks for posting this, Peter (and for helping Art host his project). As a homeschooling parent, this serves as both spur and inspiration.

Len Currie's picture
Len Currie on April 1, 2010 - 18:26 Permalink

If anyone that reads this currently does not have DSL or access to the wireless HSPA network that BellAliant offers, please feel free to email me.

I do work for BellAliant and although not in the capacity to be able to make promises and provide high speed service (I’m in an altogether different department), I’d be more than happy to help you if you’re looking for help or service inquiries.

Simply pop me an email at lencurrie (at) gmail.com

Keep up the great work on the blog Ruk!

(I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to post this comment on your other latest BellAliant DSL post :-)