B.C. commits $50 million to improve Internet in rural and Indigenous communities

100 MILE HOUSE, B.C. — The British Columbia government will contribute $50 million to an ongoing internet connectivity program to bring high-speed services to rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

Ravi Kahlon, the parliamentary secretary for rural development, said Monday the grant funding is expected to benefit people living in up to 200 rural and Indigenous communities.

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The funding can be used to help bring high-speed internet to entire regions or to make final connections to homes and businesses, he said.

"Bringing connectivity to communities takes timing, collaboration and hard work to design local solutions and develop infrastructure that meets the needs of its residents, and to ensure the network is one that people and businesses can depend on," he said at a news conference.

The $50 million is the largest single investment in the province's Connecting British Columbia program since its creation in 2015, said Kahlon.

The program has started or completed projects in 479 communities since July 2017, of which 83 are Indigenous communities, says the Ministry of Citizens' Services in a statement.

Rural internet provider Falko Kadenbach said it is challenging to build fast, reliable and affordable networks into more remote areas, but the benefits improve services, lives and communities. Kadenbach said his networks cover vast areas of B.C. from Terrace to Mackenzie to Osoyoos.

Rural and remote communities are also eligible to access the federal government's recently released $750-million broadband fund to provide investments in local infrastructure to deliver high-speed internet, said Kahlon.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2019.

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