The digital divide is felt in the north
Majority of rural, remote people left without high-speed internet, despite feds boasting of wide coverage, says Blue Sky
NORTHERN ONTARIO — Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) has announced that the federal government is on track to provide Canadian households access to high-speed internet by 2026.
Recent stats clarify that 93.5 per cent of Canadians have high-speed internet and projections show that 98.6 per cent of households will have access by 2026.
So far, the federal government has invested $3.2 billion in the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), as well as a $1.2-billion funding program from the province.
ISED states that, “Up to 75 per cent of eligible project costs (90 per cent for projects benefiting Indigenous communities) are provided to incentivize the building out of high-speed internet connectivity in rural and remote communities.”
Even more optimistically, ISED claims, “Based on current projections, all households in Ontario will have access to high-speed internet by December 2025.”
Connectivity in Northern Ontario’s rural and remote communities is still feeling the digital divide.
Susan Church, executive director of the Blue Sky Economic Growth Corporation, explained that in areas such as southern and eastern Ontario, its terrain is ideal for quick and easy development.
Blue Sky is a non-profit corporation whose role is to support areas of economic development like forestry, mining, and technology. It was developed to bring together the private sector and upper levels of government to build broadband projects. Blue Sky Net maps provide clients with a visual overview of where ISPs could fill the void.
“If you look at the (Blue Sky Net) map and you drill down into the southwest or eastern Ontario, indeed, there are pockets and they’re working to solve those problems and that’s great,” Church said.