Today, Minister of Citizens' Services and Open Government Ben Stewart highlighted the ongoing efforts to increase Internet and cellular connectivity for British Columbians.
"Our ongoing work improving connectivity is an investment in a successful future for British Columbia. Expanding cellular service along our highways or supporting affordable access to high-speed Internet, especially in remote communities, are the kinds of commitments we make to keep B.C. at the leading edge."
Under the Connecting British Columbia Agreement (CBCA) between Network BC and TELUS, there has been a continued focus on improving connectivity throughout the province. Since the signing of the agreement in 2011, 455 kilometres of new highway cellular service has been installed, and remote communities throughout the province enjoy local Internet services with many seeing their connection infrastructure upgraded.
Under the CBCA, improvements to connectivity include:
- Maintaining 119 Internet points of presence within communities throughout the province to ensure local Internet service providers have the required capacity at an affordable price.
- Since 2011, expanding cellular coverage to approximately 455 kilometres of primary and secondary highways within B.C.
- The upgrade of 129 public schools from legacy copper base services to fibre-optic Internet connections in 2012.
In a continued effort to reach the goal of 100 per cent connectivity throughout the province by 2021, the B.C. government is working on programs like the B.C. Broadband Satellite Initiative announced in fall 2012. Beginning in spring 2013, this initiative is expected to bring affordable satellite-based high-speed Internet to citizens in remote or geographically challenging locations.
The government's commitment to continued improvement and expansion of the Internet and cellular connectivity in B.C. is part of keeping our economy strong with well-paying jobs while making life more affordable for British Columbians.
Gordon Kirk, director dispatch centre operations, British Columbia Ambulance Service -
"Expanding the cellular coverage along B.C.'s remote highways enables more individuals to call 911 for help and receive life-saving instructions over the phone. Better network capability helps paramedics get to emergencies faster and communicate more effectively -- the agreement between the Province and TELUS means this network is continuing to grow every year."
Bob Allen, president, British Columbia Broadband Association -
"Our BCBA members were very pleased with the support we received from Network BC in 2012. The Connecting British Columbia Agreement that was announced last May at our conference in Richmond will ensure continued Internet connectivity for thousands of rural British Columbians over the next decade."
Mike Black, TELUS vice president, customer solutions delivery -
"At TELUS, we recognize how important wireless services are and are thrilled to work with the provincial government to make roads safer for our province's families. Our significant investment brought wireless coverage to 455 kilometres of highway in 2012 and will allow travellers and residents the convenience of making hands-free wireless calls along remote stretches of highway. We're particularly proud of expanding access to 911 emergency services and look forward to expanding this access in years to come to increase the safety of travel in British Columbia."
Network BC is working to bridge the digital divide through the following programs:
Connecting British Columbia Agreement with TELUS
As part of the 10-year strategic telecommunications contract signed in July 2011, TELUS agreed to provide the following rural benefits at no additional cost to the taxpayer:
- Work toward increasing Internet connectivity throughout B.C.
- Maintain service to designated communities through Internet gateways, which enable local Internet service providers to offer services to citizens and businesses.
- Provide over 1,700 kilometres of new cellular coverage along previously unconnected highway segments within five years in order to improve public safety.
- Increase Internet speeds or bandwidth by up to tenfold in many previously connected areas.
- Upgrade up to 450 schools with high-speed fibre-optic cables over the next 10 years to enable faster access to information for young learners.
Pathways to Technology
- A $40.8-million federal and provincial investment to connect First Nations Communities to the Internet. This program is being led by the Pathways to Technology Project Steering Committee.
- To date, 170 of 203 communities have Internet access. The program is working to enhance connectivity to communities that either have little or no Internet access.
B.C. Broadband Satellite Initiative
- Up to $2 million is being invested over five years to provide affordable satellite broadband service to British Columbians who would otherwise have no other high-speed Internet connection for the foreseeable future.
- A procurement process is currently underway to select a qualified satellite service provider and is expected to be complete by March 2013.
Read about how Network BC is connecting B.C. at: http://www.network.gov.bc.ca/
Audio of Stewart discussing connectivity: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/Minister_Stewart_Connectivity_in_BC.mp3
Map of new highway cellular coverage (all of British Columbia): http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/CellularUpgrades_BC_Map.pdf
Map of new highway cellular coverage (Northeast & Southwest):
Map of new highway cellular coverage (North Coast & Kootenays):
Map of new highway cellular coverage (Thompson-Okanagan):
Jason Macnaughton, Communications Director
Ministry of Citizens' Services and Open Government