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The province’s government has announced a new wave to its cord cutting and broadband plans, with the first of a series of initiatives aimed at helping consumers switch to cable and other high-speed internet services.
On Friday, the Manitoba government announced the creation of the Manitoba Broadband Network, an initiative aimed at connecting people with the Internet in rural and remote areas.
“It’s important to us that we can reach the people who are already in the market for high-performance broadband and they have access to it,” said Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.
“The new wave that’s coming is aimed at people in rural Manitoba and remote communities.”
The Manitoba Broadcast Network will be a single-service, universal service, which means the province will provide a single access point for all Manitoba residents who don’t have a fixed-line connection.
It will also include a dedicated Internet access service for remote communities.
“There are some folks in rural areas who might be experiencing difficulties getting to their Internet access,” said Pallister, noting there are about 2,500 rural Manitoba residents with a fixed wireless connection, including about 1,000 who live in remote communities or who live with other people who live on the same property.
The Manitoba Network will also be available for people who don�t have access via a fixed line service, and they will be able to upgrade their fixed-service provider with a $200 discount.
For those who already have a wireless service and are looking to upgrade, Pallister said, they will receive a rebate for $200, up to $500 for upgrades to their existing wireless service, up until they can get a new one.
“So that�s the first step,” he said.
“But what we want to do is to make sure we can get everyone connected to the Internet.
And the second step is we want everyone to be able get access to the internet.”
Pallister said he�s hopeful the Manitoba Network is the first in a series that will help the province�s rural and rural-based communities gain access to high-quality high-tech broadband.
“When we have more rural and urban communities, we are going to have more choice and we are able to better serve them,” he added.
“And the reason we have to do that is because of our population density.
We�re going to need to provide better Internet access in rural communities.”
Parlister said there are many other measures the province has announced in the wake of the wave.
The province is launching a $50-million project to upgrade telecommunications infrastructure in rural- and remote-based areas to make it more resilient to the threat of climate change.
The provincial government is also looking at new investments in broadband infrastructure, which it says can be a big boon for rural communities.
Pallison said the province plans to spend $2 billion to upgrade the Manitoba Telecommunications Infrastructure Corporation to help rural communities upgrade their networks.
“We�ve got a long way to go, but we�ve certainly started,” he explained.