By: Korie Marshall
The federal government plans to spend $305 million in the next 3 years to bring high-speed internet to rural and remote communities. But first it wants to know if its map of currently available speeds is correct, and it is looking for public input.
On July 23rd, Cathy McLeod, MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, issued a news release announcing the launch of Connecting Canadians, a new federal program that plans to bring high-speed internet to 280,000 Canadian households that currently have slow or no internet access. The federal government says it will invest up to $305 million to extend broadband internet access at 5 Mbps (megabits per second) to 98 per cent of Canadian households, mainly in rural and remote communities across Canada.
In the first phase of the project, Industry Canada is looking to ensure their map accurately reflects internet speeds across Canada, says Matthew Quick, legislative assistant for McLeod. He says the map will then be used to decide which areas most need upgrading to meet the 5 Mbps threshold. McLeod invites her constituents to visit the new Connecting Canadians website at www.ic.gc.ca/ConnectingCanadians to give input on communities whose internet service does not meet the 5 Mbps threshold, and could be eligible to receive funding through this program.
Industry Canada is looking for input from the public, businesses and municipal governments to ensure their information is correct, says Quick. You can use the interactive maps of Canada to see which areas have households, and which do not currently have access to at least 5 Mbps internet speed. Quick says by clicking the “Is this correct?” link, you can provide feedback about the accuracy of the current data.
A release from Bob Zimmer, MP for Prince George-Peace River, says residents without internet service can call Zimmer’s office at 613-947-4524 and staff can assist in filling out the survey information.
Quick says the feedback page does allow you to submit information regarding upload as well as download speeds, and Industry Canada is also looking for feedback on areas that don’t meet the 5 Mbps upload speed. Upload speeds are typically less than download speeds for most internet service providers.
The government says information about communities considered in need and eligible for funding will be made public this fall. Following that, companies interested in participating in Connecting Canadians will be invited to submit applications, and the first projects are expected to be announced in spring 2015.
“For all Canadians, especially those living in rural and remote areas, having access to high-speed Internet helps create new jobs as well as new innovative products and businesses,” said McLeod in the release. “As more and more Canadians work and engage online, ensuring those in rural and remote areas have high-speed Internet access will enable them to fully take advantage of the digital economy.”