In some countries, access to the internet is now considered a basic human right,204 and the UN has recognized the internet as an enabler of human rights (such as freedom of opinion and expression).205 Multiple studies206, 207 show that broadband has a positive effect on a nation’s GDP and household income, as it increases personal productivity and allows for more flexible working and learning opportunities. Making more high-speed broadband available across rural Alberta will open new employment possibilities and revitalize traditional industries with new technologies, such as virtual tourism.
In Canada, internet traffic is expected to grow 2.7 times between 2015-2020 (a compound annual growth rate of 22%),208 and the number of connected devices will grow to three times the human population. This increase will require more bandwidth.
Short-term recommendations (1-3 years)
Alberta needs a provincial broadband strategy. A comprehensive framework linking all connectivity technologies and opportunities across the province.
As per Cybera’s submissions to the CRTC, the province should set a target of making available 25 Mbps symmetric internet bandwidth for all citizens.209
Alberta needs coordinated leadership for the development of rural broadband solutions. A community of communities should be created to act as an aggregator and facilitator of resources from diverse sectors to determine their options for broadband adoption.
The new Alberta SuperNet agreements (due in 2018) must have the necessary vision, flexibility, and sustainability for Alberta to play a leadership role in broadband.
Government and industry need to further develop and promote Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) as part of a provincial broadband strategy. Calgary and Edmonton need to grow their IXPs in order to improve internet resiliency, minimize long range data transport costs, and increase competition within the carrier market.
There should be regulatory oversight for the practice of oversubscription and delivery of advertised download and upload speeds. In particular, ISP’s should be required to provide consumers with guaranteed minimum speeds (see Cybera’s recommendation to CRTC.210 )
- Government should monitor developments and opportunities to leverage new technologies (including DSL and cable protocol improvements, and LEO satellite and high-altitude wireless network deployments) in the province.
Long-term recommendations (3-10 years)
The province should develop a plan to leverage federal funds and initiatives to expand broadband access into rural Alberta.
The province should set a target of 100 Mbps symmetric internet bandwidth for all citizens to place Alberta among the top 20 countries for average internet access speeds.
Municipalities should consider opening their fibre assets to public institutions and community based not-for-profit ISPs. This should not preclude the use of municipal fibre by commercial carriers on commercial terms.
Government regulations should require all trenching of public land to include the installation of conduits that can carry public access fibre. This will greatly reduce the cost of building out infrastructure for future expansion.
Antenna tower and site sharing should be encouraged and facilitated by rural municipalities and land-use authorities in a way that supports the deployment of fixed area wireless.
- Continue investment in CyberaNet, the provincial R&E network, with a target of > 100 Gbps capacity in the next five years.
204. United Nations. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, p. 18, 16 May 2011. Accessed 27 July 2016.
205. United Nations. The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet. 27 June 2016.
206. Danish Energy Association (2010) The socio-economic value of digital infrastructures. Copenhagen Economics.
207. Ericsson, Arthur D. Little, and Chalmers University of Technology (2013) Socioeconomic effects of Broadband Speed.
208. Cisco, VNI Complete Forecast Highlights Tool, 2016.
209. Cybera. CRTC Review: Cybera’s Submitted Response on Future of Broadband. 14 July 2015. Accessed 29 July 2016.
210. Cybera. The Future of Broadband Internet Access in Canada. 24 January 2014. Accessed 29 July 2016.