By Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG
The federal government says data from National Broadband Internet Service Availability map shows most of Valemount is served by 50/10 internet, but Mayor Owen Torgerson says that data is inaccurate.
According to Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, data from the NBISA map shows the center of Valemount is already served by internet services with download speeds of 50 Megabits per second and upload speeds of 10 Mbps
The map contains data collected by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Innovation Canada through annual surveys and consultation with Internet service providers, federal partners, industry associations, provinces and territories, and others. Innovation Canada says the data is updated twice a year.
Both Torgerson and Councilor Pete Pearson are a part of the Southeastern BC Connectivity Committee, with Torgerson serving as the committee’s vice chair.
The mayor says Valemount was denied broadband funding when the Village — along with several other municipalities in the Columbia Basin — applied to the Universal Broadband Fund through Columbia Basin Trust’s Connecting the Basin initiative.
Torgerson said the reason the Village was denied funding is because federal data on Valemount’s connectivity speeds are incorrect.
“Funders are only able to rely on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability mapping which contains inaccurate data and most frustratingly, Valemount was deemed ineligible for the Universal Broadband Fund,” Torgerson said.
He said internet performance tests, like those done by the Canadian Internet Regulation Authority, prove that the village is not a 50/10 community.
“For example it depicts the Village office has speeds of 25/5, when actual speed test results show less than 5/1,” Torgerson told The Goat.
While at the Union of BC Municipalities earlier this fall, Torgerson raised his concerns regarding internet speeds with Minister of Citizen’s Services Lisa Beare.
The Ministry said while there is no formal testing program for rural internet speeds, it works closely with communities to assess infrastructure in areas where high speed internet isn’t yet available.
“For communities such as Valemount, where available speeds or speed performance may not be accurately reflected on the map, a community can work with a service provider to submit a project proposal to the Connecting Communities BC program,” the ministry said, adding that a third intake for the program is expected to open in the next few months.
While the federal data reportedly shows the heart of the village is served by 50/10 internet, Innovation Canada told The Goat that some surrounding households are not.
“Any households on the map showing coverage of less than 50/10 Mbps service are eligible to be included in applications to government broadband funding programs,” Innovation Canada said.
It was unclear to the Goat by presstime, however, if some of the slow test results are because residents subscribe to slower internet services.
Both the federal and provincial government says residents can submit evidence demonstrating internet speeds don’t match what is reported on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability map.
Those who’d like to share information or documentation showing inaccuracies data on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability map can email nationalb[email protected]
Columbia Basin Trust encourages residents to take a Canadian Internet Regulation Authority speed test to provide specific connectivity data. A page with instructions can be found at https://ourtrust.org/speedtest/