Are you searching for information on high speed internet service?
AUMA has consistently advocated that the Province of Alberta address the critical lack of dependable and affordable high speed broadband internet service. We have recognized the crucial role connectivity plays in the sustainability and welfare of our members’ communities and we continue to urge the provincial government to assist municipalities in finding cost-effective and reliable service solutions.
A brief history of our advocacy and the current government programs:
Launched in 2005, the Alberta SuperNet was built to connect public institutions across the province – schools, hospitals, colleges, universities, and libraries – to a broadband network for high-speed Internet access, video conferencing, and other services.
Axia SuperNet Ltd ensures that private sector service providers connecting to the SuperNet also provide high-speed Internet access for their rural residential and business clients. Axia’s agreement with the province provides SuperNet access until 2018.
In addition to SuperNet, Service Alberta and Agriculture and Forestry launched the $6.6 million Final Mile Rural Connectivity Program to improve and extend broadband coverage in rural and remote parts of Alberta in 2012.
Under Final Mile, municipalities, First Nations, and metis settlements were eligible to apply for a grant that covered up to 75 per cent of eligible Internet infrastructure expenses such as towers, fiber optic cable, wireless equipment, installation costs, and radio license fees. The program also waived long distance installations fees for residents in rural and remote areas and provided connections using satellite technology.
Despite these different provincial programs, there remain concerns that small communities are underserved in terms of access to high-speed Internet, as there is often only one Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the area. ISPs have also stated that it is not cost-efficient to install high-speed Internet infrastructure in regions with lower population densities.
In the federal context, the Connecting Canadians Program is providing $305 million to internet service providers to improve rural connectivity across Canada. Similar to the province, the federal government is striving to ensure 98 per cent of the population can access high-speed Internet (five megabits per second). To date, no projects have been announced for Alberta.
AUMA's newsletter, Developing Broadband Solutions for your Community, provides you with background information on broadband connectivity and SuperNet, details on broadband technology options, and a list of questions you may wish to ask when considering the best broadband solution for your community.
In January 2017, the University of Alberta released Understanding Community Broadband: the Alberta Broadband Toolkit. The toolkit is designed to assist municipalities and community groups in Alberta in developing local broadband solutions.