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Broadband broadens access for rural BC

Broadband Canada has conditionally approved funding for thirteen new projects in rural BC. The project is part of the Connecting Rural Canadians program, an Industry Canada initiative to bring high-speed internet access to households outside of major Canadian cities.

Dick Harris, the MP for Cariboo-Prince George, announced the decision yesterday. This is the second phase of Connecting Rural Canadians: the first was announced by Minister of Industry Tony Clement on May 9, 2010. Clement was “delighted” to make the announcement, which represents a federal contribution of approximately $76.7 million to bring broadband access to 169,000 homes across Canada.

This second phase adds nearly 10,000 BC homes to the total; Canadian broadband services will continue to be expanded until the available funds have been exhausted.

Harris sees the Connecting Rural Canadians program as holding “boundless opportunities for these communities.” The media release from the Government of Canada notes that the initiative is meant to “encourage economic development, spur innovation, and improve the quality of life” in rural communities across British Columbia and the nation.

The millions of dollars supporting the program come from the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, which, in 2009, committed to devote $225 million to extend broadband coverage to unserved and underserved households in Canada over the next three years.

In total, Broadband Canada’s project will bring high-speed access to more than 32,000 BC homes in areas such as Comox-Strathcona, Pemberton Meadows, Alberni-Clayoquot, Columbia-Shuswap, and Salt Spring Island. A full list of the areas affected is available on their website.

Shannon Smart is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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