Strengthened by a 485-signature petition covering the areas of Big Lake, Rose Lake, Spokin Lake Road and between 150 Mile House and Horsefly, Independent MLA Bob Simpson has taken the issue of expanded broadband Internet services to the legislature.
“That petition allows me to bring the issue into the house but it also gives us a sense of how many households or the level of interest we have in that area,” Simpson says.
The petition signifies an interest in improved broadband Internet service.
Simpson says he hopes to take advantage of the recently signed agreement between Telus and the province for a $1 billion internet and cellular expansion project over the next 10 years.
He says that agreement is one of the key pieces that will allow smaller Internet service providers to utilize the larger network and provide connections to smaller or more remote communities.
Now, he says, what needs to be put in place is some grant money from the province that would help Internet service providers make the capital investment required to expand the service to rural locations.
Money formerly available for that purpose through the “Connecting Citizens” grant program is no longer available, Simpson says, adding there may yet be other funds available for that purpose.
Another hurdle is approval times at the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for towers and other infrastructure required to expand cellular and internet services in rural areas, he says.