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Rural areas to get better high speed internet service

Rural and remote areas of the West Kootenay-Boundary and across the province are expected to benefit from a $100-million, 10-year strategic telecommunications services contract the Province signed with TELUS Wednesday.

Under the contract, high-speed Internet connections will be improved for families and businesses in rural and remote B.C., and cellular coverage along highways across the province will be expanded.

The contract will also provide telecommunications and strategic services to government and its broader public sector partners.  

The contract will:

Upgrade almost 450 schools to high-speed fibre optic cables to enable faster access to information for our youngest learners.

Provide over 1,700 kilometres of new cellular coverage along unconnected highway segments within five years to improve public safety.

Establish a Strategic Investment Fund, setting out a minimum of $80 million for initiatives aimed at transforming and improving service delivery for government, families and businesses around B.C.

Save B.C. $8.5 million in the first year alone and, based on the Province’s historical growth patterns, could save a total of $400 million over the life of the contract.

Currently, 93 per cent of British Columbians have access to broadband Internet. By combining all of the existing telecommunications spending done by government through this contract, the Province is committed to expanding high-speed connectivity to 97 per cent of British Columbians.

This would ensure the province remains one of the most connected jurisdictions in the world.

Specifically, through this contract, 119 designated rural and remote communities across B.C. will have their Internet connection bandwidth increased up to 10 times the current speed to enable broader access for families and businesses.

As well, this contract will maintain affordable wholesale Internet access for regional service providers so they can continue to provide last-mile coverage for rural and remote British Columbians. 

The Notice of Intent can be viewed at www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca.