December 7, 2018 1:30pm
The Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce is continuing the fight to improve high-speed internet access for rural businesses.
A report by the Auditor General claims the Canadian government hasn’t effectively monitored and created a long-term strategy to address service gaps.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission [CRTC] says as of 2017 only 39 per cent of rural businesses and communities had access to high-speed service, while 13 per cent were lacking access to minimum download speeds over five megabytes per second.
President and CEO Shirley de Silva said it’s a crucial service for rural companies to remain competitive.
“High-speed internet is really a basic, essential modern infrastructure,” said de Silva. “It’s absolutely necessary. If not, you limit certain groups from being able to participate in the digital environment like farmers, students, people in rural areas. They’re just completely left out unless it can be brought right up to the last person.”
de Silva said the chamber network is recommending the development of a long-term strategy that identifies resources and timelines to get underserviced areas up to speed.
They also want to accelerate the deployment of 5G technology by removing existing barriers.
The chamber said a $500 million investment into the “Connect to Innovate” program has created partnerships and outcomes, but the auditor general concluded that the CRTC didn’t implement it in a way that ensured the maximum expansion in rural and remote communities.