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Ottawa and Alberta invest $ 300 million in joint funding for Internet connectivity

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The federal government matches Alberta’s $ 150 million commitment to expand rural Internet access across the province.

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Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish, along with Federal Tourism Minister and Edmonton MP Randy Boissonnault, said Thursday the goal is to achieve universal high-speed Internet access in rural, remote and Indigenous communities as early as 2023 or 2024, but that could be delayed by up to two more years depending on global supply chains and the industry’s ability to do the job.

“The pandemic has certainly highlighted the need – accelerated the need – to get there,” said Glubish, who added that he expects the first announcements of project funding to be made in early 2022. .

The deal will see the provincial and federal governments work together to select projects that will receive funding from the federal government’s $ 2.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund, which allocates up to $ 50 million to projects benefiting to indigenous communities.

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The announcement comes after Premier Jason Kenney said in July that Alberta would commit up to $ 150 million to improve broadband in rural and Indigenous communities.

Boissonnault said more than 200,000 rural and remote households in Alberta do not have high-speed internet.

“We all know that access to high-quality, high-speed internet is essential. Connectivity impacts all sectors of the economy, including – I would emphasize – our tourism sector, ”said Boissonnault, who called the $ 300 million joint funding a down payment on a larger project. and longer term.

“We don’t want to overheat the market by trying to do everything in the first year. We would have high prices and frankly we wouldn’t be able to cover all the ground, ”he said.

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Glubish echoed this, saying the federal-provincial partnership is an important “first step”, focusing on priority projects first.

“We know that the connectivity problem in Alberta would require an investment of about $ 1 billion to be resolved,” said Glubish, who expects the private sector investment to add more than $ 100 million to the government’s initial joint effort of $ 300 million.

It is estimated that 80 percent of Aboriginal communities and 67 percent of rural communities do not have access to network speed targets set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Alberta’s opposition NDP has pledged $ 520 million for high-speed internet across the province by 2027 if elected in 2023.

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