The jungle book

Communities go online with help from Broadband Fund

Another group of rural communities in Manitoba will have access to high-speed Internet thanks to the federal government’s Universal Broadband Fund.

The Rural Municipality of Saint-Laurent, on the western shore of Lake Manitoba, received just over $1 million from the UBF.

The service will be provided by Starlink, a globally available satellite service operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

The funding will be used to cover the cost of approximately $800 for the equipment needed to launch the service for each residence.

Upload and download speeds are fast enough to meet Canada’s Connectivity Strategy, which aims to provide 98% of Canadians with access to Internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download/10 Mbps upload by 2026 and 100% by 2030.

Cheryl Smith, Warden of the RM of Saint-Laurent said that due to the fact that residents of her community are so scattered, many are unable to subscribe to terrestrial services, although she said that some near Highway 6 report an adequate ratio. BellMTS service, for example.

“But in many rural municipalities, high-speed internet service is poor to non-existent,” Smith said.

Many UBF funds are used to cover part of the cost of laying the cable and building what is called fibre-to-the-home.

But in the case of the St. Laurent project — which also includes the shoreline communities of Twin Lakes Beach, Laurentia Beach and Oak Point — the money will be used to cover the cost of the hardware needed to access the low Earth orbit satellite service.

“Not having access to reliable internet has made the impact of the pandemic even more difficult than in other parts of the country,” said Terry Duguid, Liberal MP for Winnipeg South and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment. and Climate Change.

Because there is no construction in place, this funding comes from the UBF rapid response stream. Smith said she hopes people can start ordering their gear very soon.

The funding should be able to cover the costs of 1,162 households.

Residents can choose to participate and they will then be responsible for paying the monthly fee of approximately $140 per month.

The $2.75 billion UBF has already funded 22 projects in Manitoba to the tune of $249 million reaching approximately 95,000 homes. According to the most recent data, only Ontario and Quebec have benefited more than Manitoba from UBF project funding.

Smith said Starlink service gets pretty good reviews from other users in Manitoba, except for some service outages during storms, the downside of any satellite service.

“For us, it was an alternative that made sense,” Smith said. “Our community is very large and it’s pretty much all single-family homes. Traditional fiber optic networks that run close to major highways or power lines simply don’t work for our community. »

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Martin Cash

Martin Cash

Martin Cash has written a column and business news for the Free Press since 1989. During those years he wrote through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) of the fortunes of many local businesses .