The B.C. government today announced it is seeking partners to help bring affordable high-speed Internet to families in remote regions of the province.
The B.C. Broadband Satellite Initiative will see the B.C. government invest up to two million dollars through 2016-17 to leverage the latest generation of satellite technology. This will make access to high-speed Internet connections affordable and available to residents of remote areas of B.C. where service is not currently available.
Approximately 3 per cent of B.C.'s population lives in areas where satellite technology provides the only option for a high-speed Internet connection for the foreseeable future.
Under the B.C. Broadband Satellite Initiative, citizens who qualify for the program would receive funding assistance for both installation and set-up costs, making it more affordable to subscribe to high-speed service in remote locations where traditional wireless or landline broadband solutions are not available.
Access to affordable high-speed Internet will provide families and businesses in B.C.'s remote regions with a wide range of new social and economic benefits. Better Internet connectivity also means improved access to public and government services such as e-health, and e-learning resources, as well as an open door to the information citizens need to actively participate in decisions that impact their lives.
The program will be delivered in partnership with a yet to be determined service provider (or providers) selected through a government procurement process, which opens today with a Request For Expressions of Interest (RFEI) posted on the BCBid website.
The procurement and selection process is expected to be completed by March 2013. Details on how citizens can apply for participation in the program will be announced following the selection of a successful proponent or proponents and the program's official launch.
Minister of Citizens' Services and Open Government Ben Stewart:
"Internet connectivity is an essential tool for families and businesses who want to be part of the future of commerce, education and entertainment. All British Columbians - not just people living in the city - should be a part of this evolution. Providing affordable access in remote areas to an internet connection is a critical step towards achieving our goal of 100 per cent broadband Internet connectivity for citizens by the end of 2021."
Donna Barnett, MLA Cariboo-Chilcotin and chair of the BC Government Rural Caucus:
"One of the issues our Rural Caucus heard as we consulted with British Columbians was the need to make access to high-speed Internet more affordable in remote areas of B.C. We've listened and acted on this issue and are giving more families and businesses in remote B.C. affordable Internet access. This is a win-win situation and will help people connect to online opportunities."
- The B.C. government has committed to ensuring 100 per cent of British Columbians have access to high-speed Internet connections by 2021.
- Today, 93 per cent of British Columbians have access to high-speed Internet.
- The remaining 7 per cent of the population live in the outskirts of connected communities or in rural and remote areas.
- In time, it is anticipated that 4 per cent of the population will gain access through programs, bringing land-based connectivity to their communities.
- For the remaining 3 per cent living in remote locations, the challenges of distance, difficult terrain and small markets all contribute in making it extremely challenging to deliver broadband Internet through land-based solutions. This means satellite technology offers the only viable option for the foreseeable future.
To learn about the Request for Expression of Interest visit: http://www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca
Ministry of Citizens' Services and Open Government