Northern communities still face high-speed internet struggles

Originally posted by Northern Ontario Business – June 13, 2023

By 2030, the federal government wants every Canadian household to have access to high-speed internet, while Ontario has set a similar goal by 2025.

And while the feds maintain the average shows 91 per cent of Canadian households have access to fixed high-speed internet, that is an average that is greatly skewed by the number of people who live in urban areas. Auditor General Karen Hogan found only 59.5 per cent of rural and remote communities had access to high-speed internet.

Blue Sky Net recently released a study using the latest federal government data that showed of the 285 Northern Ontario communities, only 74 had at least 50 per cent of their households able to access 50/10Mbps fixed high-speed internet. Of those 74 communities, only 47 had at least 75 per cent of households accessing 50/10Mbps internet.

“The study also found that smaller communities in Northern Ontario felt the impact of this digital divide the hardest. According to Census Canada, of the 285 Northern Ontario communities, 187 had populations under 1,000 and only 41 of these communities had at least 50 per cent of their households able to access 50/10Mbps internet,” the release states.

In terms of speed, the trend is positive, Blue Sky Net said it found.

“Between 2020 and 2022, 31,895 speed tests were recorded and throughout that time it was found that the median speed test result improved from 4.88Mbps (download speed) to 20.21Mbps in 2022,” the report states.

“Although these speed tests can be taken by cell-phone and satellite internet users, this shows a somewhat positive trend towards improved broadband in Northern Ontario.”

To read the full Northern Ontario Broadband Report, click here.