Govern­ment funds Ru­ral Broad­band Ini­tia­tive

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

In­no­va­tion, Busi­ness and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Keith Hutch­ings has an­nounced a $4 mil­lion in­vest­ment to im­prove broad­band ac­cess on the is­land por­tion of the prov­ince.

This in­vest­ment, along with pre­vi­ous provin­cial govern­ment in­vest­ments fo­cused on ad­vanc­ing the prov­ince’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions ca­pac­ity, has seen the per­cent­age of res­i­dents with broad­band ac­cess in­crease to ap­prox­i­mately 85 per cent – up from 60 per cent in 2003.

This an­nounce­ment is in ad­di­tion to the $11.3 mil­lion provin­cial in­vest­ment an­nounced in Happy Val­ley-goose Bay to up­grade Labrador’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture.

The govern­ment, through the Ru­ral Broad­band Ini­tia­tive, is ad­vanc­ing ini­tia­tives to im­prove broad­band ac­cess in New­found­land and Labrador.

Mr. Hutch­ings ex­plained “As a govern­ment, we made a com­mit­ment to im­prov­ing broad­band ac­cess in un­der­ser­viced ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. “It’s an im­por­tant step in achiev­ing our goal of hav­ing broad­band ac­cess avail­able through­out New­found­land and Labrador. It will link those liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas to ed­u­ca­tional, com­mer­cial, and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties that are cur­rently not avail­able.

“Broad­band is a bridge that con­nects ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties to the same op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able in larger, more ur­ban cen­tres.”

Of the fund­ing, Bell Aliant will use $2.1 mil­lion from the prov­ince to pro­vide broad­band ac­cess to parts of the North­ern Penin­sula, as well as the cen­tral and east­ern re­gions of the prov­ince.

Bur­geo Broad­cast­ing Sys­tems and Ramea Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, through a com­bined $230,000 in­vest­ment, will up­grade ser­vices to Ramea, Grey River, and Fran­cois. Xplorenet Com­mu­ni­ca­tions will use a $1.67 mil­lion in­vest­ment to iden­tify op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­ple­ment a fixed wire­less so­lu­tion in the cen­tral re­gion.

Mr. Hutch­ings in­di­cated “It rep­re­sents the pos­i­tive out­comes that can be en­joyed when pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor or­ga­ni­za­tions work col­lab­o­ra­tively. It is a re­sults-driven ap­proach that is pay­ing in­cred­i­ble div­i­dends in this prov­ince as it has led to more than 470 com­mu­ni­ties hav­ing broad­band ac­cess – up from 114 com­mu­ni­ties in 2003.”

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