Canada’s connectivity gap leaves rural, remote and Indigenous communities even further: new report

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OTTAWA, ON, 28 October 2021 / CNW / – Many people in rural and remote areas Canada are still unable to access essential services online and are struggling to thrive in an increasingly connected economy, according to a new report from an expert panel of the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA). Progressive policy approaches have failed to close the connectivity gap, and the obstacles to achieving equitable connectivity will not be overcome with technology alone.

Waiting for connection. The Expert Panel on Broadband Networks for Rural and Remote Communities in Canada. (CNW Group / Council of Canadian Academies)

Waiting for connection examines the non-technical issues that have led to the connectivity gap, the obstacles that persist, and the practices and principles that can guide the path to equitable connectivity.

The problem is particularly acute in indigenous communities, where current approaches have disproportionately disadvantaged them. Improved access would help support Indigenous self-determination and economic reconciliation by increasing Indigenous participation, innovation and leadership in the economy.

“Broadband connectivity isn’t just used to browse the Internet; it is an integral part of communications and commerce, as well as the provision of education, health care and other essential services, ”said Karen barnes, EdD, Chairman of the Expert Group. “Insufficient connectivity in rural and remote areas has been a problem for decades, and the damage caused by the connectivity gap is getting worse as more aspects of daily life move online. “

Canada set a goal of providing broadband speeds of 50 Mbps (download) and 10 Mbps (upload) to all Canadian households by 2030. By 2019, almost all urban households had access to these speeds , while only 46% of rural households had access to it. Only 35% of households on First Nations reserves and no households in the territories met the 50/10 threshold. According to the expert group, even these target speeds are insufficient for some existing applications and are unlikely to meet the needs of rural and remote areas. Canada today and beyond 2030. Closing the connectivity gap means providing broadband in rural and remote communities comparable to that of urban centers in terms of speed, quality and cost, while recognizing that the introduction of new technologies can also unintentionally exacerbate disparities.

COVID-19 has exposed the serious impact of the connectivity deficit, cutting many people in rural and remote communities off essential health, education, business and professional services as they pivot online to reduce the spread virus.

Waiting for connection considers the benefits of high-speed broadband connectivity, the challenges in realizing those benefits, and the barriers that have limited the deployment of broadband in rural and remote areas, ”said Eric M. Meslin, PhD , FRSC, FCAHS, President and CEO of “The report also includes examples of promising place-based practices and some guiding principles that can help achieve equitable connectivity.”

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) called on the CCA to undertake an assessment of the legal, regulatory, ethical, social and economic (LESP) challenges associated with the deployment and use of secure high-speed networks for rural, remote and indigenous communities in Canada. NRC’s Secure and High-Speed ​​Networks Challenge program works to develop innovative next-generation technologies that can enable ultra-fast communication networks in these communities. A better understanding of the implications of LESP for the deployment and use of secure and high-speed networks in these communities through Canada enhance NRC’s ability to anticipate potential challenges and successfully facilitate the development and commercialization of these supporting technologies.

Waiting for connection examines the systemic issues that have resulted in a persistent connectivity gap, as well as promising practices and guiding principles that can help achieve universal and equitable connectivity.

Visit www.cca-reports.ca to download the report.

About the Council of Canadian Academies

The CCA is a not-for-profit organization that undertakes evaluations by a panel of independent, evidence-based experts to inform public policy development in the Canada. The CCA was founded by three independent organizations that represent some of the greatest minds in the Canada the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Their Fellows and senior decision makers sit on the CCA Board of Trustees and Scientific Advisory Committee, and they are a key source of membership for expert panels. CCA’s founding academies also provide key guidance and feedback throughout the assessment process, including expert panel appointments and dissemination processes. For more information on the CCA or its evaluations, please visit www.cca-reports.ca.

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Logo of the Council of Canadian Academies (CNW Group / Council of Canadian Academies)

Logo of the Council of Canadian Academies (CNW Group / Council of Canadian Academies)

SOURCE Council of Canadian Academies

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