Broadband in rural regions needs attention

Everyday I talk to people who are still using dial-up to access the internet. Not out of choice but because they have no other options. In rural homes, ranches and farms of Central Alberta people want to connect to the web. The last mile, the point from where fibre and copper ends and the point where subscribers live, does have some creative solutions such as line of site radio transmitters and mobile broadband air cards. Due to the lay of the land, the limited number of towers and high costs, these solutions don’t work for a majority of our rural population.

Canadian telecoms are promoting their mobile broadband AKA air cards as the ultimate solution. Once limited to business and the oil and gas industry, these air cards are now being promoted to consumers as a great way to take the internet with you where ever you go. Sounds like a great deal but if you don’t read the fine print and if you use the web like other folks you’ll take a financial beating.

In the US, President Obama has promised to provide broadband to rural, remote and under served regions. With a $4Billion price tag this plan will “…help bridge the technological divide and create jobs building out Internet infrastructure…“. The Alberta government spent $193Million over three years to bring Supernet to many areas in Alberta but it stopped short of providing serious broadband internet service to rural citizens. Maybe the Canadian government  should follow the lead of the US Feds and throw some ‘recovery’ funds at rural broadband across the country rather than rely on telecoms to come up with a solution.

Dean

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Advanced Systems

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