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N.S. to force cell, internet providers to give rebates after lengthy outages

By Steve MacArthur Oct 13, 2022 | 3:43 PM

Downed power poles in Pictou County. (CREDIT: Communications Nova Scotia).

The province is set to turn up the heat on Telecom companies.

The PC’s are tabling legislation to force local telecommunications companies like Eastlink, Bell and Rogers to be more accountable and ensure reliable service and better communication to Nova Scotians during emergencies.

This comes after many people in eastern Nova Scotia could not dial 9-1-1 due to service outages in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.

“We need our telecommunications companies to step up and do better. We will no longer accept the status quo. We need to see significant improvements before the next storm or there will be significant penalties,” said John Lohr, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office. “Telecommunications is critical during and after any weather event and Nova Scotians need to be able to call 911 and connect with loved ones during an emergency.”

The amendments include:
— requiring telecommunications and other critical service providers to take reasonable actions to ensure the continuation of service
— requiring  telecommunications and other critical service providers to develop an annual emergency response plan that must be approved by the Minister
— providing the Minister with the authority to require the physical attendance of telecommunications and other critical service providers at an established emergency planning and response table, and to require the critical service provider to share records related to their response to the emergency event
— giving a rebate to the customer equal to the financial benefit acquired by the telecommunications provider and other critical service providers from the customer while the customer was not receiving the service.

Failure to comply with the legislation and/or regulations could result in daily fines of up to $250,000 if convicted.


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