Skip to main content

Conference aims to find solutions to rural and remote broadband connectivity issues

A two-day conference at North Bay’s Canadore College is being held to discuss the future of broadband internet connectivity.

The Canada's Rural and Remote Broadband Community conference brings together groups looking at creating further opportunities for smaller, rural northern communities that need stronger internet connection.

Municipal leaders, rural advocates and internet service providers are discussing how to better connect northern Ontarians to broadband internet.

"Making sure that there's money available there to build and making sure that there's adequate supply chains and that the focus is on completing the build," said YorkNet general manager Laura Bradley.

YorkNet plans, builds, operates, manages and maintains a high-speed, dark-fibre network across York Region. It is focused on maintaining and expanding the region’s telecom network to support economic development and innovation.

YorkNet also provides internet service providers with open access to its network to enhance access to high-speed internet for residents and businesses. It currently provides service to about 40 rural and underserved communities in the York Region.

The goal of the conference is to better understand rural and remote broadband challenges and find new options to connect Canadians to stronger, faster broadband.

"A lot of the speakers have been talking about collaborating on solutions,” said conference founder and organizer Amedeo Bernardi.

“All levels of government, the vendors that are here look at new and innovative ways to look at connectivity."

The conference's keynote speaker is Bram Abramson, the new commissioner of the CRTC in Ontario.

"We know the existing processing can be demanding for smaller service providers,” Abramson said in a speech to the stakeholders.

“We want to make it faster and easier. That is hoping in many ways we are hoping you will come in."

The conference is addressing rural and remote broadband difficulties, an issue that came into sharp focus during the pandemic.

"COVID has raised the visibility of a problem many of us know,” Bradley said.

“I’ve been in the industry for 20 years and had to struggle with connectivity at that time. It lit the spotlight that many said needed to be there.”

According to the CRTC'S website, 91 per cent of Canadians have access to broadband speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) on download and 10 Mbps on upload and unlimited data connection. But only 62 per cent of rural communities have that strong connection.

"You've got to put those projects into gear. We have short building seasons,” said Bernardi.

“The farther north you go, the summer is very short."

The second day of the conference is focusing on Indigenous broadband projects and what can be done to further improve connectivity on reserves. Top Stories

Stay Connected