Closing the gap on the ‘digital divide’ in rural Saskatchewan

Think about this for a second: when was the last time you picked up a landline telephone somewhere in Canada and didn’t get a dial-tone? I can recall maybe one or two times in the distant past when I got a ‘fast-busy’ signal instead of the tell-tale drone of dial-tone.

The geographic disparity of our vast country did not stop each of the provincial telephone companies nor the Federal Government from investing the billions of dollars required to build out both the provincial and national phone network, to the point that we have achieved 99% dial-tone coverage across Canada. It is and continues to be a universal right that all Canadians, regardless of their location, have access to landline dial-tone.

Broadband internet access, however, is another story.

Equal access to high-speed internet is not considered a universal right and this has created a digital divide that’s leaving rural and poor Canadians behind. Without access to high-speed internet, the ability to learn, work and stay civically engaged is impeded greatly, especially in an environment that requires connectivity for many government, employment, education and social cloud-based applications. The disparity created causes these citizens to become detached from the modern, globally-connected world and this means that a large proportion of our citizens are being left behind – disadvantaged economically, socially, and academically. For our business communities to compete globally, increase productivity and efficiency, have access to next generation cloud-based applications, stop ‘brain drain’ and attract and retain talent, they need access to reliable and affordable high-speed connectivity.

FlexNetworks has recognized the need in Saskatchewan for ‘more and better’ high-speed connectivity. For the past two-and-a-half years, FlexNetworks has quietly and efficiently built a network that provides affordable, facilities-based, ultra-high-speed, fibre-optic connectivity for both public and private enterprises in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and Estevan, with more on the way.

In addition to investing millions of dollars into Saskatchewan, FlexNetworks is fortunate to be a successful proponent in a Public Private Partnership with the Federal Government through a unique initiative that not only recognizes the digital divide in Canada but, more importantly, does something about it. Through the Connect to Innovate (CTI) program, FlexNetworks will provide ultra-high-speed Internet access to 14 underserved communities between Saskatoon and Prince Albert: Balone Beach, Berard Beach, Blumenheim, Blumenthal, Crystal Springs, Domremy Beach, Greenfeld, Hagen, Gruenthal, Neuhorst, Nickorick Beach, Riversedge, Tway and Wakaw Lake.

This $8 million-plus project is being 75% funded through the CTI program and will provide the citizens of these towns with an equal shot and a level playing field. It’s what we all want, for ourselves and, more importantly, for our children. And for the first time, many people in Saskatchewan will have that thanks to FlexNetworks.

What do you think, should all Canadians have broadband access?

 

Comments ( 1 )
  • Blaine Mulligan says:

    This is phenomenal news. Rural Saskatchewan has long been underserved for data connectivity for a long time now, purely because of the low density of our population in a considerably large geographic area. I’m very excited to see the new service offerings you are able to provide, especially as many of the communities that will benefit will be right close to my hometown of Birch HIlls.

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