Broadband is critical to many aspects of modern life. Rural Albertans require highspeed internet to engage in the digital economy, work and learn from home, access government services, and be able to participate in social and recreational activities. Without highspeed internet, rural Albertans are being left behind. As a result, rural communities will struggle to retain and attract families and the economic activity they bring.
Unfortunately, the RMA’s recent internet speed testing project shows that only 9% of tests run met the Government of Canada’s target connectivity speed of 50 mbps download and 10 mbps upload. This is in stark contrast to federal data reporting 67% of rural Canadians receiving 50/10 speeds and demonstrates the significant gap in both rural internet speeds and the overall understanding of the current state of rural internet. While significant investments from both the federal and provincial governments have been made, large gaps in service still exist in rural Alberta.
What can candidates do on this issue?
While the Government of Alberta has released a provincial broadband strategy, along with $390 million in provincial funding, there is room for additional work to be undertaken in partnership with rural municipalities and rural internet service providers. Oversight will be required to ensure this public investment reaches the difficult-to-service areas of the province.
Candidates should speak to communities in their ridings about their connectivity challenges and recent investments in broadband, and use that information to advocate for better targeting of provincial broadband funding.