The Internet has thrived because it was founded on principals of openness and accessibility. The only way to create an economy for all Canadians is by making sure everyone has access. If communities of people are left behind this won’t work.
With broadband having become as essential as running water and electricity to improving people’s daily lives and providing a standard of living equal to that of urban and suburban parts of the country, we need to find a way to close the connectivity gap. In Northern Ontario, a community’s high speed connectivity is critical to prosperity, wellbeing and to significant economic development.
The ability to use a safe, secure, affordable and quality internet connection is a prerequisite to economic growth. Companies increasingly rely on connectivity for their daily operations. For Northern regions to be competitive and attract prospective businesses, explorers and tourists – that service must be available. In addition, communities looking to grow and attract new residents need access to reliable and affordable broadband in order to support education, training and health services, personal and corporate communications and professional advancement.
The internet that Northern communities can access is often slower and more expensive than it is for their urban counterparts. Building networks in rural and northern communities is incredibly expensive, and in some places it’s nearly impossible. The terrain can be a problem and, the ground could be frozen for more than half the year, making it very difficult to install fibre or other infrastructure.
Is there a solution? Well, the solution maybe right in the communities themselves. Frustrated communities and townships have taken matters into their own hands and created their own broadband infrastructure. Cities such as Stratford, Cochrane and Thunder Bay have been running their own internet services for years.
In Northeastern Ontario there is push for similar local solutions to be put in place in order to provide reliable, affordable and unlimited high-speed internet to rural and small communities. Ontario North Consulting is working with municipalities and with local internet service providers, not a big telco, to bring this needed service to underserved areas or areas that don’t meet the universal service objectives of the CRTC.
As we see it, the solution doesn’t necessarily need to start with the big telcos: the real solution to deliver equal online access can come from right inside communities, despite being rural or remote. Ontario North Consulting positioned a solution to 2 communities in 2018 and will be doing the same to a number of others in the upcoming year.
While broadband is a hot topic with municipalities, many of them don’t know where to start. The first thing they need to do is to assess the current situation by understanding who the current service providers are? Where are the service and speed gaps? Where is the fibre located?
Community leaders, rural advocates, service providers and government will come together on November 12-14 in North Bay, Ontario for the first annual Canadian Rural and Remote Broadband Conference. The “Bridging The Digital Divide Canada” event will provide a unique opportunity for stakeholders to share their knowledge, experiences, lessons learned and advice. “I want this conference to set the tone for broader collaboration across all stakeholders – communities, regions, service providers, vendors and all levels of government across the country“ says Amedeo Bernardi, Conference Organizer. Learn more here.
Please contact us for further information about how we can help you get the information and resources to become a community partner in bringing reliable, affordable and unlimited high-speed internet to your community.