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Over the next decade, Alberta’s demand for bandwidth is expected to increase dramatically. This demand will likely be met by a wide variety of networking technologies, many of which are still being tested (including new satellite, drone and balloon delivery methods). But until these are commercially deployed, residents and businesses in many rural or remote regions of Alberta are still reliant on outdated or expensive internet connections. These groups continue to lag behind the urban centres when it comes to bandwidth availability, speed and cost.

By the numbers:

  • Expected annual growth rate of Canadian internet traffic between 2015-2020: 22% (2.7x today’s traffic)1
  • Percentage of low income households in Canada with internet access at home (as of 2013): 59.7%2
  • Current number of Albertans without access to internet at speeds of at least 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload: 80,000
  • Average Canadian download / upload speeds in 2015: 18.6 Mbps down / 7.3 Mbps up3
  • Average rural Canadian speeds in 2015: 14.8 Mbps down / 6 Mbps up
  • Average Alberta speeds in 2015: 13.5 Mbps down / 5 Mbps up
  • Percentage of Albertans over the age of 18 who own a mobile device: 80%
  • Expected annual growth rate of Canadian mobile data traffic between 2015-2020: 42% (6x today’s traffic)
  • Expected annual growth rate of Canadian IP video traffic between 2015-2020: 20% (3x today’s traffic)


 

Recommendations for Improving Networking

Short-term (1-3 years)

  • Develop a provincial broadband strategy
  • Set a provincial target of 25 Mbps symmetric internet bandwidth
  • Establish a community to aggregate and facilitate rural broadband solutions
  • Ensure the new Alberta SuperNet agreements (due in 2018) allow Alberta to play a leadership role in broadband

Long-term (3-10 years)

  • Develop a provincial plan to leverage federal funds and initiatives to expand broadband access into rural Alberta
  • Set a provincial target of 100 Mbps symmetric internet bandwidth
  • Work with municipalities to open their fibre assets to public institutions and community based not-for-profit ISPs


 

References

  1. Cisco, VNI Complete Forecast Highlights Tool, 2016.
  2. CRTC. Communications Monitoring Report, Table 2.0.8. Accessed 2 May 2016.
  3. CIRA. Canada’s Internet Performance: National, Provincial, and Municipal Analysis. April 2016. 
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