Westwind Weekly News
The Ministry of Service Alberta says the government will ensure that rural Albertans remain connected to the internet as they negotiate a new contract for SuperNet.
The current contract with Axia is set to expire on June 30.
SuperNet is a high-speed network composed of more than 13,000 km of fibre and 2,000 km of wireless connections throughout rural Alberta.
“Our government understands that in today’s Alberta, the internet is not a luxury – it’s an essential service for families and key to building a modern, diverse economy.
“That’s why we want to be clear: There will be no outages or break in connectivity to SuperNet as we work to finalize a new service contract,” said Service Alberta spokesperson Cheryl Tkalcic.
“As we move forward, we will keep working to ensure Albertans continue to have access to the internet services their schools, hospitals, businesses, and families rely on.”
This comes after Stirling village council voted at its June 20 meeting to send a letter of concern to the ministry regarding the future of SuperNet service in the region.
“Axia is concerned that they’ve heard nothing from the government and it’s not clear whether they’ll be able to continue operating the SuperNet after essentially this coming weekend,” said Mayor Trevor Lewington.
The letter, which is adressed to Minister of Service Alberta Brian Malkison, highlights Axia’s role in providing high-speed internet access to the village.
“While I respect the Government of Alberta has many complex tradeoff decisions to balance the needs of many diverse stakeholders, I can definitively state that our community would not have broadband access without the private investment of Axia,” wrote Lewington.
“We were able to provide reliable and world class internet to our residents with no public funds required. Protecting this service and enhancing the resulting opportunities for our community is of the utmost importance.”
The village’s letter was in response to a news release from Axia, which expressed concern about the future of high-speed internet access in rural Alberta without Axia.
“As an open network, SuperNet can, and has, radically improved quality of life for many Albertans,” wrote Axia CEO and chairman Art Price.
“It has allowed teachers to teach with more immersive methods, children to learn faster, families to stay closer, businesses to work and communicate more efficiently, doctors to heal better, and so on—enabling innovation, diversity and progressiveness in almost every field of human endeavor.”
In 2016, the CRTC declared broadband internet access to be a basic service, ordering Canada’s internet providers to enhance internet service and speeds in rural areas.