Province aims to expand rural internet access – Red Deer Advocate

Alberta is moving forward with its goal of having 100 percent broadband connectivity by 2026-27.

The Alberta Broadband Fund (ABF) will expand access to financial support for rural broadband and will complement the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF).

The ABF is part of Alberta’s Broadband Strategy, a $390 million over four-year commitment to improve access to high-speed Internet in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Alberta’s $390 million pledge is also matched by the federal government.

“I’ve heard from many community leaders who are excited about Alberta’s $390 million commitment to rural broadband and the corresponding $390 million from the federal government. But I know that many communities have not been able to apply for the Universal Broadband Fund in time,” said Nate Glubish, Alberta Minister of Service.

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“That’s why I’m establishing the Alberta Broadband Fund to ensure no community is left behind. The ABF will help connect more Albertans, families and businesses to reliable, high-speed internet.”

The province is providing $36 million to the ABF, which will begin accepting applications from communities and service providers later this fall.

“Developing fast, reliable, and affordable rural internet requires public investment,” said Paul McLauchlin, president of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta.

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“RMA is grateful for the Alberta Broadband Fund and we look forward to the impact this will have on communities that may not have a business case to rely solely on the private sector for rural internet development. Made in Alberta works.”

According to a release from the Alberta government, nearly 489,000 Albertans living in 201,000 households do not have access to the federal target speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads.

Around 80 percent of indigenous communities and 67 percent of rural and remote communities now lack access to reliable, high-speed internet. None of Alberta’s eight Metis settlements can access the federal target speeds.

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“This announcement is good news for several Alberta congregations who have been concerned about being expelled from the UBF despite difficulties with internet connectivity,” noted Cathy Heron, President of Alberta Congregations.

“The Alberta Broadband Fund provides these communities with an additional path to full connectivity, which will help our province thrive in our increasingly digital world.”

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