Why Do We Need a Connectivity Needs Assessment?
In 2016, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission) declared that access to broadband Internet amounted to an essential service and adopted minimal performance standards across Canada. New standards in high-speed Internet require minimum speeds of 50 megabits per second when downloading information and 10 megabits per second when uploading information. At that time, only 39% of Canadians living in rural and remote areas had access to the same speeds available to urban areas.
The Peace River Regional District faces unique challenges with regard to connectivity in the electoral areas. Service options are limited, and costs for high-speed internet can be expensive. Most residents and businesses do not have affordable access to internet that meet provincial and CRTC standards.
What is a Connectivity Needs Assessment?
The Peace River Regional District (PRRD) has hired Valo Networks and Canadian Fiber Optics Corporation to complete a connectivity needs assessment for the electoral areas of the PRRD. This includes making an inventory of existing networks, mapping locations of existing fiber, and identifying areas where there is no service.
What are the Benefits of Connectivity?
Access to connectivity benefits rural and remote communities by allowing them to connect with friends and family, purchase goods and services, access education and health care services, expand their business, connect with services that otherwise might be available only in urban areas and better prepare for and response to emergencies.
What Are We Doing?
The purpose of the Regional Connectivity Needs Assessment is to:
- Evaluate the current and future demand and capacity for connectivity services in the region.
- Complete an inventory of existing networks in the PRRD electoral areas.
- Provide an overview of current broadband and cellular providers’ services, pricing, and coverage area
- Map the location of networks and the speeds available by providers..
- Identify the technologies best suited to the PRRD based on our geography and demographics.
- Identify possible business models and partnership options that would help the PRRD achieve minimum standards in the region set by CRTC.
The Peace River Regional District put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find a contractor to complete the Regional Connectivity Needs Assessment
The PRRD awarded the contract to Valo Networks and Canadian Fiber Optics Corporation.
Valo Networks and Canadian Fiber Optics Corporation begin work inventorying the connectivity of the PRRD electoral areas and will be completing a final report by March 31, 2020. The report will be presented to Peace River Regional District Electoral Area Directors Committee and/or Board by April 30, 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Connectivity?
Connectivity is a general term that refers to a program or device’s ability to link with other programs and devices. Examples of this could be a phone call, connecting a device (computer, phone, tablet) to the internet, and more.
What is Broadband?
The term Broadband refers to high-speed internet access that is always on and faster than the dial-up internet.
Does the Regional Connectivity Needs Assessment means I will be getting high-speed internet soon?
We are currently in the first steps of the Connectivity Needs Assessment, which is to get a sense of what areas of the PRRD need connectivity and the potential ideas on how to make that happen. There is no timeline on when more connectivity will be available.
Where is the money coming from to pay for the Connectivity Needs Assessment?
The Connectivity Needs Assessment is being paid for by the Electoral Area Directors.
What is the CRTC?
CRTC Stands for the Canadian radio-television Telecommunications Commission. The CRTC supervises and regulates over 2,000 broadcasters, including TV services, AM and FM radio stations, and the companies that bring these services to you. They also regulate telecommunications carriers, including major telephone companies.
Why Doesn’t the PRRD apply for CRTC Grants?
There are several requirements that we have to meet before we are able to apply for CRTC Grants. One of them is this Connectivity Needs Assessment.