$2.28 million provided for fibre optics in region
More than 70 communities will benefit from the first eight projects to be approved under the up to $10 million Connecting BC Program, the B.C. government’s latest investment to expand high speed Internet service to British Columbians in rural and remote areas of the province for learning, training, doing business, finding services and staying connected.
The first share of grant funding has been awarded to seven Internet service providers stretching across the province, with the project reaping the largest funding benefit located in the Kootenays.
The Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation will be getting $2,287,305 to expand its fibre optic network across region. The project will provide better access for small local Internet service providers and service improvements for up to 27,000 local residents.
Communities that will benefit include: Canal Flats, Cranbrook, Elkford, Elko, Fernie, Invermere, Jaffray, Kimberley, Moyie, Radium Hot Springs, Sparwood, Spillimacheen, Wasa, Yahk, Kitchener, Creston, Wynndel, Crawford Bay, Golden, Nakusp, Revelstoke, Boswell, Kaslo, Nelson, Silverton, New Denver, Slocan, Castlegar, Castlegar Airport, Fruitvale, Salmo, Waneta, Rossland and Trail.
This fulfills the commitment made during in Budget 2015-16 and is part of the province’s strategy to reach the goal of 100% high-speed connectivity before 2021, a Sept. 24 Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services press release outlined.
“With more growth taking place in rural and remote communities, it’s crucial they have access to the world’s most powerful tool to connect, learn, find information and to compete in the global economy,” said Premier Christy Clark. “High-speed Internet service should be available to everyone in the province, and we’re committed to expanding service to every British Columbian.”
The criteria for funding focuses on projects that will expand and upgrade service, especially the cost of ‘last-mile infrastructure access’ which is the connection from the main network line to the individual subscriber, often a barrier to expanding Internet service in rural communities.
“In today’s world, being able to access online services and resources is becoming more and more essential,” said Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, Amrik Virk. “This program is part of our commitment to ensure everyone in B.C. has access to high-speed Internet service so they can take advantage of the opportunities in the digital world no matter where they are located.”
This first wave of program grants will fund improvements to network engineering and design and improve equipment and infrastructure such as fibre optic cables, repeaters, radio equipment, towers and network devices.
Connecting British Columbia is a multi-year program administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust and covers the entire province. A call for applications to the program was made in June 2015.
“Our mandate is to strengthen the economy in many of B.C.’s most rural and remote areas,” said Janine North, Northern Development Initiative Trust CEO. “This program will do just that, providing the infrastructure that’s needed for B.C.’s residents and businesses to have access to and compete in a high-speed digital world.”
To apply for funding, applicants must be legally registered entities such as local or regional Internet service providers; community high-speed Internet organizations; Aboriginal organizations; local governments such as regional districts or municipalities; economic development organizations and registered societies and associations.
High-speed Internet is considered to be at least 5Mbps download speed and 1Mbps upload speed.
A total of 94% of British Columbians currently have access to high-speed Internet service.
The Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation is a subsidiary of Columbia Basin Trust.