"Concerned business people in Halifax are talking about the need for skyscrapers to bring our city into the 21st century, but that's old thinking," says Michael Marshall. "We aren't measured by our buildings but by the speed of our internet access."

Marshall, a director at Chebucto Community Net, says that while Halifax led the world in the early '90s in adapting online technologies, he fears we are now falling behind.

Chebucto is using a series of "town hall meetings" to urge Haligonians to update their telecommunications networks from cable to fibre for increased speed, storage capacity and access to online services.

While cable internet requires customers to depend on internet providers such as Aliant and Eastlink for service, fibre allows many providers to share the same line.

In communities as small as 200 to 300 people, fibre net can be installed and offer customers a greater choice of service providers. Marshall says that instead of an electronic railway system controlled by the companies that own the railway, fibre offers an electronic highway where companies will be given choice and providers will be forced to provide more for their money. "Knowledge-based industry and information technology industry are booming, and if we don't get with the times we'll be left behind," says Marshall. For more information see chebucto.ns.ca.

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