Resolutions Database

Resolution ID
3-17S
Year
2017
Convention
Spring
Title
National Broadband Strategy
Vote Required
Simple Majority
Category
Community Services
Type
Requires Endorsement
Majority Needed
Simple
Current Status
Sent To Government
Vote Results
Awaiting Vote
Sponsor List
  • Parkland County
District
  • 3 - Pembina River
Preamble

WHEREAS broadband is recognized as an essential utility by communities and jurisdictions throughout the world; and

WHEREAS many rural, remote, and northern communities in Canada continue to be unserved or underserved by internet service providers; and

WHEREAS internet service in rural, remote and northern communities is slower, has less bandwidth and is more expensive than services in urban centres; and

WHEREAS many jurisdictions are implementing programs and initiatives that leverage network-based technologies to strategically improve services to residents, enable businesses to become globally competitive, incubate a knowledge workforce and enhance social capacity; and

WHEREAS the success of these communities is reliant upon the availability of high speed, high capacity bandwidth internet connectivity;

Operative Clause

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the governments of Alberta and Canada declare broadband an essential service; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the governments of Alberta and Canada provide direct funding and support to rural, remote and northern communities to ensure affordable access to, or the development of, high speed (100 Mbps and faster) community network infrastructure; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge  Government of Canada develop a national broadband strategy;  and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that rural municipalities, internet service providers, education and health professionals, public safety organizations, and research and economic development authorities be actively involved in preparing the National Broadband Strategy.

Member Background

Despite different provincial and federal programs, many rural, remote and northern communities (RRNC) remain unserved or underserved in terms of access to high-speed internet. With vast geographical expanses and low population densities, internet service providers (ISPs) do not have a business case to invest in these communities. Residents and businesses in RRNC with internet service often contend with slower speeds and pay higher costs for service than their urban counterparts.

Access to high-speed, high capacity internet service at an affordable price is vital to facilitate local economic development and for the provision of cost-efficient and effective public services. It is crucial that RRNC have the mobile networks, broadband connections and open data platforms that allow stakeholders to advance their individual needs and for the betterment of the community at large. Increased broadband speed with high capacity will help existing local businesses grow and become participants in the digital economy. Unfortunately, policy discussions on broadband have been focused on increasing access, not investing in and leveraging broadband for economic, social and community development.

High-speed, high capacity broadband also enables all levels of government to deliver public services in the most financially responsible manner. Governments need higher bandwidth to serve evolving video, image, data and voice requirements to provide the numerous services residents expect.

The 2016 federal budget announced a new $500 million program for rural and remote community broadband funding over the next five years with an uninspiring and unambitious target of 5 Mbps down/1 Mbps up. With the rapid advancements in information and communications technology (ICT), changing patterns in internet consumption such as video streaming and increased utilization and movement of data packets, the identified targets will leave Canada in a compromised position globally. With broadband consumption growing at annual rates up to 50%, and a failure to invest in and support a robust broadband network, we will continue being internet viewers rather than broadband contributors and innovators in the digital economy.

A recent study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states “Canada has amongst one of the world’s slowest Internet speeds (ranking 33rd) and highest costs around the world” (August 15, 2013). Further, from 2002 to 2012, Canada fell from 2nd to 13th for wired broadband connections. Without a deliberate and focused broadband strategy, people without 21st century broadband will be left behind; it will come at a significant cost. The digital divide and the inequity between RRNC and their urban counterparts’ access to internet will create the new disenfranchised underclass.

Many jurisdictions have made substantial investments in broadband recognizing the enormous benefits that will be derived. While many of these have high population densities, looking at Australia with a population density of 3.1 people/square kilometer and their commitment to broadband and comparing it to Canada which has a population density of 3.6 people/square kilometer illustrates the lack of commitment made in this country.

In 2009, Australia announced a commitment to build the National Broadband Network (NBN) - (US $44.1 billion) extending high-speed optical fiber directly into the homes, schools, and workplaces of 93 percent of Australians. A 2013 report concluded that the NBN would provide job opportunities, time savings, and other benefits worth, on average, AU $3800 (US $3600) per household per year by 2020. The cost was approximately AU $1900 per household. Although polls showed that the majority of voters supported the project, after the 2013 election the initiative was scaled back but still brings fibre optics to all new developments.

AAMDC Background

3-15S: Review of Alberta SuperNet Agreement with Axia SuperNet Ltd.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that Service Alberta not renew the Axia SuperNet Ltd. agreement until a complete examination of how the Alberta SuperNet can be managed in such a way as to promote a cost competitive, reliable, sustainable and Alberta-based solution for fibre optic internet services which meets the increasing demand for high speed internet service within the Province of Alberta with sufficient emphasis to rural connectivity. 

DEVELOPMENTS: The Government of Alberta is currently in the process of developing an RFP for a new SuperNet operator when Axia’s contract expires in 2018. As part of this process, Service Alberta has engaged the AAMDC and other stakeholders to better understand the current weaknesses of the SuperNet in connecting public sector institutions and supporting the development of rural broadband connectivity.

Because Service Alberta has acknowledged flaws in the current SuperNet and challenges in how it is operated by Axia, and has expressed a commitment to improving SuperNet in the future, this resolution is assigned a status of Accepted in Principle, and will be reviewed when a new operating agreement is signed.

8-14F: Improvement of High-Speed Internet Services in Rural Alberta

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties lobby the Government of Alberta to make the investments necessary to improve high-speed internet services in rural Alberta. 

DEVELOPMENTS: The Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada are currently in the process of administering several programs intended to improve high-speed internet service in rural Alberta.

The Government of Alberta is in the process of developing an RFP to seek a new SuperNet operator when the current contract with Axia expires in 2018. Service Alberta has worked with the AAMDC and other stakeholders to identify weaknesses with SuperNet, and are committed to improving it through the new operating agreement.

Alberta Economic Development and Trade are currently undertaking a joint project with the University of Alberta to develop an educational resource for municipal officials in rural and small urban municipalities that will consolidate relevant regulatory, funding, and technical information to assist them in taking local steps to improve broadband access in their communities.

In the 2016 federal budget, the Government of Canada committed $500 million over five years to improve rural broadband access and connectivity to the digital economy. Details of the program are not yet available, but funding is expected to start flowing in late 2016 or early 2017.

Both the provincial and federal government are taking steps to improve rural internet service. However, all of the strategies and programs described above have yet to be completed, and their effectiveness is not yet known. As the final product has not shown any improvements at this time, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met, and will be revisited as these programs progress.

Government Response
 
Development
 
Federal Ministries and Bodies
  • Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Ministries
  • Service Alberta
  • Treasury Board and Finance
Provincial Boards and Organizations
 
Active/Expired
Active