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Rural broadband part of Notley’s Alberta

Rural broadband part of Notley’s Alberta

The premier promised a rural broadband strategy in her throne speech

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Rural Albertans would receive access to highspeed broadband under Rachel Notley’s NDP government.

That promise was part of the message the premier delivered during her speech from the throne yesterday.

Broadband “is a necessity and we will invest in a rural broadband strategy, helping people in rural areas get the same fast, efficient internet services as people in urban centres,” Lt.-Gov Lois Mitchell said when she read Notley’s speech.

Representatives of rural communities hope whichever party forms the next provincial government follows through on a broadband plan.

Having access to reliable Internet connections and speeds is important for rural communities, said Al Kemmere, president of Rural Municipalities of Alberta.

“It’s always good to hear any positive news about rural broadband, but the challenge is we’ve heard this a lot,” he told Farms.com. “We’re hoping this is a concrete plan that comes through in the future.

“I know that, more and more, farmers and businesses rely on connectivity to operate efficiently. And having good broadband connections will also give young people a reason to move back to our rural communities and help them thrive.”

Not all community members are in favour of government spending on rural broadband, however.

Those types of projects should be left to the private sector, said Clay Williams, a beef producer from Hanna, Alta.

“As a farmer, I obviously see the value in Internet but that sort of thing should be in the hands of private enterprises,” he told Farms.com. “If the industry thinks it’s feasible, it’ll do it. I think my taxes going to supply Internet to other places is a waste of my money.”

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