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WHEREAS all Albertans should enjoy equal opportunities to high-speed Internet access regardless of geographic location; AND WHEREAS the provision of high-speed Internet access to rural Alberta enhances the vision of sustainability for rural Alberta as described in the report Rural Alberta: Land of Opportunity by Doug Griffiths, MLA for Wainwright and Luke Ouellette, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake; AND WHEREAS the private sector providers of high-speed Internet access are reluctant or moving slowly towards providing high-speed Internet access in rural Alberta; AND WHEREAS current high-speed Internet options to rural Alberta are limited and are cost prohibitive in relation to urban alternatives; AND WHEREAS the Province has made significant investment in the SuperNet which is intended to provide the infrastructure necessary for private sector providers to make available high-speed Internet access in rural Alberta;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Province to support and facilitate initiatives to promote access to high-speed Internet in rural Alberta.
Rural Broadband Internet Access ADSL as provided by Telus is generally installed where there are sufficient population numbers to provide a reasonable return on investment. Given the lower population density associated with rural living, few areas actually meet the criteria for selection as potential ADSL sites. While residents can attempt to petition Telus to get service, it is a tedious, slow process that does not guarantee results. Satellite Internet is available to rural Alberta, however it is typically very expensive being as much as two to three times typical broadband costs. Satellite Internet is also normally slower than its terrestrial-based counter parts and installation presents technical challenges to the average consumer. Furthermore, there are very few satellite Internet providers and their services are targeted at larger business and not your home consumer market. Wireless Internet has been suggested as an option, however, wireless providers have been slow to expand past the fringes of larger urban areas and coverage is limited at best. The large amount of infrastructure required to support a large conventional wireless network has made it cost prohibitive to move too far from large urban centres. Most current wireless offerings are also subject to terrain effects that limit the distance they can cover. While towers exist that could be used to extend the wireless network, it is often challenging for wireless providers to gain access to them. The SuperNet was devised as a way to address access to high-speed Internet to rural Alberta by creating a network of access points throughout the province. Unfortunately, unless private companies choose to expand their service using the SuperNet infrastructure, high-speed options remain limited for rural residents. While schools, provincial buildings and municipal offices have the opportunity to benefit from the SuperNet, rural Alberta residents have not benefited from the investment.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue. However, Resolution ER3-01S, endorsed at the spring 2001 convention, urges the Province to connect rural local government offices to the SuperNet.
The 2006 budget included a $14 million amortization increase to bring high-speed Internet opportunities to communities across the province.