Montreal-based national carrier Bell is accelerating its rural internet rollout in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The carrier says it is on track to reach 137,000 more homes than originally planned by the end of this month. Bell notes that it is responding to increased usage by customers and businesses by investing in capacity and connectivity across its networks.
Bell states that wireless home internet usage has increased by 40 percent over the last month, and notes that the crisis has underscored the value of the service to customers in smaller communities.
Internet data volumes have increased as much as 60 percent during the day, and 20 percent in the evening. Bell says landline and wireless voice traffic has increased by up to 200 percent at peak times, and conference calling is up 250 percent.
Bell also notes a 40 percent increase in Bell TV volumes, and a 75 percent jump in the usage of its video streaming service Crave.
The carrier says that despite the increase in usage, it has been able to maintain overall network reliability of 99.99 percent through the pandemic.
“Our government is proud of organizations across the country that are stepping up to help respond in these unprecedented times and we are thankful to Bell Canada for this initiative,” Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said in a press release.
The accelerated rollout will bring new or enhance broadband access to around 180 communities in Quebec and Ontario, including agricultural regions and rural locations.