Shields hopeful broadband Internet will make it to rural communities

·2 min read

With the Internet becoming a critical bank of knowledge, communication, and information nowadays, it’s more important than ever to have access to it. Despite this, many rural communities across Canada are either unable to connect or they have trouble accessing the Internet. Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, talked about this issue and explained what the government is doing to help fix it.

“So, the last number that I had for Alberta high-speed Internet was available in two-thirds of the province, one-third not,” said Shields. “The population we’re talking — two-thirds, well that’s Edmonton, Calgary, and the other half a dozen major cities that gets you two-thirds of the population. What we need is high-speed Internet in the rest of the province. Now, the Liberal government has said that they’ve got a minister and the minister is from rural Newfoundland, and I’ve talked with her. It’s her mandate to get this done. She understands rural, she’s from rural Newfoundland, and she said she’s committed to getting that high-speed Internet in rural Canada. I am cynically optimistic because we’ve heard this before.”

Following this, Shields continued to emphasize that this needs to happen as soon as possible.

“We need it — when you go out and see what happens in agricultural production and you see what technology they have operated, it’s phenomenal and they need that. If we are going to stay competitive and leading edge, we need that high-speed Internet. The traditional lines and cables, if we don’t quickly get it with that are we going to do it with Starlink, are those going to exceed the level they are now? They’re expensive and they haven’t quite reached what we need, but the Elon Musks of the world are trying to figure out how to do it without cables in fibre.”

After this, Shields took a moment to highlight just how much money has been invested in ensuring that broadband access can come to those in rural areas.

“You’ve got two ways to do it — you can go by satellites or you do with fibre,” said Shields. “Either way, it’s got to be moving forward, and I think some of the competition to see is with the fibre is that the satellite capacity is getting pushed better. We will see, but it’s got to get done, both the provincial Alberta and the federal government put money in. We’re talking about $1 billion I believe in Alberta, I think that is the number, if you match the two levels of money that the feds have committed to Alberta as they have committed across the country, and as the Alberta government has committed to match. I think they’re significant dollars on the table to push this ahead.”

Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times