B.C. announces funding to improve internet connectivity in remote areas

Funds could benefit North Island communites in Savary Island, Heriot Bay and Zeballos with better connectivity

Internet service providers in B.C. will recieve funding to enhance internet connectivity and access in under served communities, announced the Ministry of Citizens’ Services.

Minister Anne Kang announced the targeted funding after communities voiced the need for better connectivity after increased instances of slowdowns and outages.

Kang said that internet connectivity in remote places is essential to support online classrooms and access to Telehealth services in the current scenario.

“People working from home, students learning remotely and families practising physical distancing all need to know they can depend on internet access during this public-health emergency. Responding to the pandemic requires the best from all of us. Our communities need reliable internet access right now, and this new fund will get projects completed quickly.”

North Island areas such as Savary Island, Heriot Bay and Zeballos will benefit from this as the funding applies to any location in rural B.C. with a cluster of underserved homes that currently have terrestrial internet services less than 25 Megabit service per second (Mbps) download and 5 Mbps upload and is served by an existing network.

Service providers in B.C. can apply for grants of up to $50,000 or 90 per cent of their expenses said Kang.

The funds directed from the $50 million Connecting British Columbia program, is to help internet service providers with immediate network equipment upgrades, electronic devices and antennas among others.

“We’re making sure that the existing funds are being optimized,” said Kang.

The purpose is to provide high speed internet to rural, remote and indigenous communities.

Applications for funds are now being accepted by the Northern Development Initiative Trust. Submissions will be reviewed on a first-come-first-served basis, with funding decisions made within three to five business day.

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