The federal government’s 2016 budget provides $255 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to the First Nations Infrastructure Fund. The goal is to support investments in a range of complementary infrastructure projects, including broadband connectivity, “in order to help communities as they develop and grow.”128 In April 2016, the First Mile Connectivity Consortium developed a ‘Guide to Federal Funding for Indigenous Broadband in Canada’.
The First Nations Technical Services Advisory Group
The First Nations Technical Services Advisory Group (TSAG) is a not-for-profit First Nations organization that provides technical support and training to First Nations in the Treaty 6,7, and 8 regions. The TSAG Information Technology program delivers IT services, including the First Nations Telehealth Portal, a support desk service for health centres, schools, and family services offices. The Advisory Group owns 51% of Arrow Technology Group, a service provider with a presence in 42 First Nations communities.129
Arrow Technology Group’s top-end business plan includes a 25 GB/month data allowance at a speed of 3.0 Mbps for downloads and 1.5 Mbps for uploads.130 The company also advertises fibre based solution, but pricing information is not available online.131
Infinity Solutions serves residential subscribers in the Metis settlements at Buffalo Lake and Elizabeth with download speeds between 2 Mbps and 7 Mbps.132
Final Mile Rural Connectivity Initiative
The Final Mile Rural Connectivity Initiative (FMRCI) was a 2014 joint effort between Service Alberta and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development to increase ISP coverage to SuperNet communities without internet access.133 This program provided ‘last-mile’ funding to 27 projects, including eight First Nations communities, enabling unserved rural Alberta communities to connect to the internet via SuperNet.134 Currently, 43 First Nations and 8 Métis Settlements have SuperNet connectivity within or adjacent to their communities.135
Of note, the cost of connecting First Nations schools to the SuperNet is covered by the Federal Government through the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.136
128. Government of Canada. Budget 2016 - Chapter 3 - A Better Future for Indigenous Peoples, 22 March 2016. Accessed 27 June, 2016.
129. Arrow Technology Group. Arrow High Speed Internet Locations. Accessed 15 July 2016.
130. Arrow Technology Group. Business Wireless Broadband Pricing. Accessed 15 July 2016.
131. Arrow Technology Group. Our Products: Fiber & Wireless Solutions. Accessed 26 July 2016.
132. Infinity Internet Solutions. Residential Services. Accessed 15 July 2016.
133. Service Alberta. Final Mile Rural Connectivity Initiative. Accessed 19 May 2016.
134. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. Final Mile Rural Connectivity Program Approved Projects. 20 March 2015. Accessed 19 May 2016.
135. Service Alberta. IM Aware presentation- Alberta SuperNet, p. 3, 8 June 2016. Accessed 5 July 2016.
136. Alberta Education. Supernet. Accessed 10 October 2014.