Government subsidy for remote Internet access announced

Rural and remote access to Internet in B.C. has received a boost in the arm.

On Thursday, the provincial government announced a $2-million investment to help rural and remote residents access satellite Internet technology.

Customers can receive assistance for installation costs to the tune of 50 per cent or up to $250.

It can cost $500 because technicians have to travel so far in some cases.

Government partnered with Xplorenet Communications Inc. and local installers to provide the subsidy to people who live where satellite Internet technology is the only option.

The Internet has become a necessity for 21st century life, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services Andrew Wilkinson said.

"Getting all British Columbians online will help expand economic opportunities, connect families and help bring the world to every corner of the province."

The program will help with the adoption of broadband, said Xplorenet senior vice-president Bill Macdonald Thursday.

"Access to broad band has been out there, the challenge has been the affordability."

Xplorenet presently has three satellites in orbit — two 4Gs were launched last year. The older one will undergo some upgrades in the near future.

The company was successful achieving the tender after the government put out a request for proposals.

"We use all independent dealers to install the satellite dishes for us across the province so it will drive more business to them and benefit local economies," Macdonald continued.

Making broad band more affordable puts rural and remote communities on a level playing field with urbanites, he added.

"Satellite internet technology can get around some of the terrain challenges faced by towers," Macdonald said.

"If you get access to satellite TV, you can get access to satellite Internet."

Today, more than 93 per cent of British Columbians have access to high-speed Internet.

The goal is to see every British Columbian with access to high-speed Internet by 2021, the government said.



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