Province Announces Historic $50-Million Investment Into High-Speed Rural Internet

The B.C. Government hopes to get at least 200 more rural communities connected with internet speeds of at least 50 mbps.

The government says this is the largest-ever investment into internet connectivity.

"This is not just about the new technologies - this is about the traditional businesses, this is about tourism, fishing, manufacturing businesses, but it's also about attracting the new digital economy, it'll assist with healthcare, it'll assist with healthcare," says Citizens' Services Minister Jinny Sims.

She says she has heard from communities in every region of the province that many areas have either poor internet services or in some cases, none at all.

"Just like in the old days, the railway lines were laid down then trains travelled down that railroad and brought goods and services and made the economy across Canada grow. In a similar way, the digital railroad of the 21st Century will serve a similar function."

Communities and regional districts will be able to work alongside service providers to apply for funding from the provincial government. Sims says that can then be used to leverage the federal government for even more money.

Under this program, the province is looking at a baseline of 50 mbps across all affected communities, although the money can be used for lines that can support speeds up to one gigabit per second.

Especially with the advent of 5G mobile services, she believes this will be especially important in future-proofing internet infrastructure down the line.

The Connecting British Columbia program was first launched in July 2017, and since then, 417 rural communities, including nearly 43,000 homes, have received funding for high-speed internet.

Audio: Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens' Service, Province of BC

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