There’s good news for many of Alberta’s remote and technologically-sidelined rural communities still waiting for access to high-speed internet services, says Art Price, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Axia NetMedia.
In December 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission (CRTC), a Federal Government body, amended the Telecom Regulatory Policy, outlining a decision to “help meet the needs of Canadians so they can participate in the digital economy and society.”
Access to high-speed internet service is being recognized as an infrastructural need and right of all Canadians.
This decision means the feds will commit 50 million dollars a year to help deliver the option of high-speed broadband internet connection to all Canadians (the fund is to reach a cap of $200 million after the first four years).
According to the CRTC website, the decision recognizes that a “well-developed broadband infrastructure is essential for Canadians to participate in the digital economy.”
The CRTC has set up the fund to ensure minimum services for broadband Internet access across Canada. Setting a goal that by the end of 2021, 90 per cent of Canadian homes and businesses should have access to broadband speeds of at lead 50 Mbps for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads. Axia’s fibre to the premise technology already supersedes these targets for business and home clients.
Price says while 50 million a year is a significant step in the right direction, Canada’s private, competitive communications sector will be the group responsible for investing the lion’s share into communications, broadband and mobile access across the nation.
“The CRTC announcement means they are recognizing that 15 per cent of Canadians don’t have access to broadband, and this decision targets those Canadians. Those people now have a chance, in a competitive process of some grouping, to get financial support for better broadband,” says Price, who was a key presenter during the initial CRTC discovery hearing.
“It’s excellent news for people in the rural markets. The old subsidy was becoming dysfunctional and not valuable. I live in rural Alberta and what’s critical to me is high-performing broadband and mobility, and those are the two things the CRTC are emphasizing.
Making the shift from the old ‘telco over old copper network’ to modern broadband and alternatives is good news. Really good news.”
Axia have consistently underscored the importance in recognizing that rural Albertan businesses, as well as families, have a right to infrastructure that ensures access to everything from sewage and water services to roads, health care, and schools among other essential needs which should include information technology and access to internet. The CRTC step to add access to high-speed internet communications is an important addition to the list.
Albertans know that industries such as Agriculture, and Oil and Gas, are integral to this province. Both of these industries operate in rural areas, and they are responsible for the employment of thousands of Albertans located not only in urban centres but small towns and communities across the prairies. Our economy is dependent on not only these sectors, but all small businesses having access to high-speed broadband internet and quality mobility.
Price and the Axia team are optimistic that this latest announcement and funding from the CRTC will enable even more communities across the province to access fibre to the premise.
“There’s an opportunity here for progressive communities to tag team with companies like Axia to bring broadband, fibre to the premises to their area. While some communities may not have had the funds to consider this before, the CRTC boost could make all the difference,” Price says.
Axia is committed to investing in any community across Alberta who want broadband access. The key will be in communities, and innovative leaders of those communities, coming together to leverage the CRTC financial support so that companies like Axia, also eager to invest private money, can continue to bring broadband to rural areas.