THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay Superior North MP Bruce Hyer says Thunder Bay-Superior North communities like Dorion, Pass Lake, MacDiarmid, Armstrong, Nakina, and Marathon are slated for high-speed Internet upgrades following a Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruling Tuesday.
The ruling means the country’s largest telephone companies must allocate $733 million out of special ‘deferral accounts’ towards customer rebates and rural broadband. This includes $310 million rebated to urban home telephone customers, and $422 million to deploy broadband Internet service to 287 rural and remote communities.
“Many of our rural communities have been waiting a long time for decent broadband Internet access – important not just for communication, but for commerce and the economy of our region.” said Hyer. “This ruling will help Marathon, Armstrong, Nakina, MacDiarmid, Pass Lake, and Dorion get connected to upgraded high-speed service.”
According to the CRTC, the rural broadband Internet service rolled out over the next four years to rural communities must be comparable to service offered in urban areas. In Ontario, Bell Canada and Bell Aliant Regional Communications will be responsible for providing the communications infrastructure. Bell’s proposal to outfit about 112 rural and remote communities with a slower wireless-based network was rejected by the CRTC.
“High-speed broadband will open up opportunities for telehealth, for education, and to help our rural businesses get on the map.” commented Hyer. “We must make sure that the broadband roll-out is done in a timely manner, so that more opportunities aren’t lost. Every year a community goes without broadband access is a year they fall farther behind the rest of the country.”
As widely reported in the media, customers in large urban areas can expect payouts from $25 to $90 from their phone companies, although it is unclear how customers will get paid, and payments could take up to six months.