High-speed Internet access to rural areas achieved
By: Kristen Spruit
| Posted: Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 10:28 am
About 98 per cent of Albertans have high speed-Internet access, including many residents in rural and remote areas, as a result of the Alison Redford government’s Final Mile Initiative launched in 2012.
Although Rocky View County (RVC) is already “serviced by some of the most advanced wireless telecommunications and high speed Internet in the world,a” according to the County website, Province-wide connectivity is good news for Reeve Margaret Bahcheli.
“I am absolutely thrilled to hear this advancement,” she said.
“You can’t underestimate the power of what high-speed Internet brings to communities and businesses in terms of getting everyone connected, getting efficient work going and for the flow of communication,” Bahcheli said.
About 94 per cent of Albertans had access to high-speed Internet services when the program was launched in January 2012, and on Dec. 6, the Redford government announced the goal had been surpassed.
“This is quite an exciting day… I’m so proud to announce the successful completion of our target. I’m pleased to announce 98.3 per cent of Albertans have access to high-speed Internet,” said Minister of Service Alberta Manmeet Bhullar.
The announcement was made via a live video conference with a Bhullar, located in Calgary, and Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Verolyn Olson in St. Paul. The initiative was a joint-effort between the two departments.
Representatives of Return to Rural also participated in the conference as the organization has been working to help implement the Province’s initiative. Return to Rural is a development initiative focused on attracting, engaging and retaining youth in rural areas.
“Connectivity is the key to young people mapping out a future in the new rural frontier.
The future is young people living in rural communities; working remotely, running online businesses, connecting on a global scale, embracing social media and redefining the world around us,” said Andrea Thornton, from Return to Rural.
In an attempt to connect more rural households, the Final Mile Rural Connectivity Initiative provided high-speed satellite services to sparsely populated regions of Alberta where fibre optic cable might have been expensive.
Through the Final Mile Rural Community Program, $5.1 million was provided by the Province for 23 projects in rural areas of Alberta to help cover the infrastructure costs of enhancing access to high-speed internet.
Municipalities, Metis Settlements and First Nations could apply for grants to cover up to 75 per cent of Internet infrastructure, including wireless equipment, towers, fibre optic cable and installation costs.
“If you live in remote reaches of our province, getting connected can make a big difference in your life. I expect that rural Albertans will take full advantage of all of these opportunities and more,” said Olson.