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Rural Internet gets high-speed boost

Surf’s up in west-Central Alberta.

The provincial government has announced the next phase of a program to bring high-speed Internet to rural and remote areas of the province.

And those benefitting include residents of a broad area between the British Columbia boundary and a line just west of Rocky Mountain House, Caroline and Sundre; as well as those living in isolated regions in east-Central Alberta.

Under the program, which is part of the province’s Final Mile Rural Connectivity Initiative, people in the affected areas can obtain satellite-based service without having to pay installation distance costs.

Previously, said Service Alberta spokesperson David Prisco, those costs averaged about $150 per customer — a fee that didn’t apply to customers living in or near urban areas.

“What the government’s done is level that playing field.”

Regular monthly service fees will still apply, with Xplornet Communications Inc. the provider.

The province said in a release that close to 4,600 households are affected by the latest phase of program.

Costing $900,000, it’s expected to bring the Final Mile Rural Connectivity Initiative close to its goal of ensuring 98 per cent of Albertans have access to high-speed Internet, said Prisco.

“The use of satellite technology will provide rural Albertans the same economic advantages as many of their urban counterparts,” said Bob Barss, president of the Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.

Anyone wishing to determine if they qualify for the program, or to register for the service, can do so by going online at www.servicealberta.ca or by calling 1-888-777-4010.

 
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