The ongoing COVID-19 emergency has changed almost everything involving how we work, communicate, learn, socialize, and function as a community. Could you imagine what it would be like without the internet?

With everything from school to church being improvised online right now, internet use has increased sharply.

It is not unexpected that local internet service provider (ISP) IGS Hawkesbury experienced a sharp increase in business as a result.

IGS serves Hawkesbury, Vankleek Hill and surrounding communities, along with Grenville in Québec.

“We’re getting a lot of upgrades,” said IGS owner Jamie Bogue, regarding customers wanting improved service due to them needing faster internet to fill their needs from working or studying at home.

Bogue said that internet traffic among IGS customers has increased by an approximate average of 50 per cent daily. During the traditional peak usage time of 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. traffic has increased by 20 to 30 per cent.

ISP’s are an essential service under COVID-19 emergency orders. Bogue said he has had to hire another person to do installation work because of the number of new customers. IGS normally has one person who does installation work, and that person normally does two installations per day. Due to physical distancing and time-consuming washing and sanitizing precautions, each installer is completing one installation per day.

Bogue described the precautions IGS is taking as a “no-touch install.”  Installation personnel will pass cables through open windows to customers and leave routers on the doorstep for them to complete the rest. However, if a customer needs assistance, the installer will go inside the home and ask that the occupants keep their distance while they work. Installers are also wearing gloves while in homes and can wear masks if they want.

Unlike at many businesses during the COVID-19 emergency, no IGS employees have been laid off. Bogue is pleased about that because his other business, Bogue Photo, has had to close completely and lay off employees at its long-time location in downtown Hawkesbury.

Obtaining adequate internet service is not easy for all local residents though.  Affordability is a challenge for some and lack of access to high-speed service is especially a problem for rural residents.

The Review contacted other local service providers as part of this story but did not receive a response.