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British Columbia's rural high-speed internet connectivity benefits people, economy: Report
Representative image/ Unsplash/Leon Seibert

British Columbia's rural high-speed internet connectivity benefits people, economy: Report

| @indiablooms | 02 Jul 2024, 10:02 pm

Vancouver/IBNS: Connecting underserved rural and remote communities to high-speed internet brings significant economic benefits to people throughout British Columbia, a new report by BC Stats has found.

Quality of life for people in rural and remote communities in BC and their access to services also improves when they have increasing access to high-speed internet.

It is forecasted by the Rural B.C. Connectivity Benefits study that besides benefiting more than 73,000 rural households, province’s investment of connectivity yields more than $8 in economic growth for every $1 invested.

Being connected to high-speed internet for the first time can also be life-changing as it enables people to digitally connect with friends and family, attend online educational courses, or make telehealth appointments.

The report includes three case studies of how communities have benefited from connectivity as follows:

The connection to high-speed internet in June 2023, enabled Chawathil First Nation members to move back to their community in the Fraser Valley to connect with family and the land, while still being able to work and learn remotely.

The Province’s $5-million connectivity investment on Haida Gwaii supported a local filmmaker-entrepreneur in launching several new businesses and hiring local people, something that was not possible with slower internet speeds.

Tele-pharmacy services for the community in the Village of Granville were supported by the increased internet capacity.

Province’s investment of nearly $290 million in 132 rural connectivity projects, the study forecasts, will generate $2.5 billion in short- and-long term economic benefits, or nearly $14,000 per connected person.

Also leveraging more than $800 million from other sources, the provincial funding equals $1.1 billion in total funding for broadband internet projects in rural B.C.

During the infrastructure building phase needed to deliver high-speed internet, other short-term economic benefits that occur include a nearly $224-million increase in GDP, generation of 1,820 jobs, and $66 million in provincial tax revenue.

Building on findings from previous regional connectivity reports, the Rural B.C. Connectivity Benefits Study includes the Coastal B.C. study released earlier in 2024, the northern and Interior B.C. reports released in 2023, and the Kootenay report released in 2022.

A partnership between the governments of British Columbia and Canada in March 2022 was announced to invest up to $830 million ($415 million each) to expand high-speed internet services.

With its commitment to connect all remaining under-served households in B.C. by 2027, the B.C. government has since invested $584 million in the expansion of high-speed internet and cellular services in the province.

Supporting Clean and Competitive, B.C.'s increasing connectivity is a Blueprint for B.C.’s Industrial Future.

(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)

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