An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
RURAL CONNECTIVITY is the pits. On that score, Kamloops-Cariboo MP Frank Caputo is absolutely correct.
Caputo has fired off a letter to Telus asking what can be done to improve the situation. He points out the importance of good cell service and Internet to safety and business development.
I can pretty much tell him what Telus will have to say about that. To Telus, and any other provider, it’s all about the ability to make a profit.
The issue is that the cost of establishing service outside the main population corridors is higher than the prospects of making money. In other words, there’s no business case for it.
The local region is full of broadband dead zones. Within those dead zones, which are usually located a good distance from population centres, the lack of cell or Internet service presents serious safety concerns.
What happens, for example, if a serious road accident results in injuries and connecting with emergency health services is impossible due to lack of cell service? The consequences are frightening to contemplate.
And we know that lack of broadband is a deterrent to business development in rural areas. For example, Internet is essential to get the word out, and clients who patronize tourism-related businesses expect to pick up the cell phone and call home.
The answer, again, is money. Service providers are willing to provide service if somebody else will pay for it. That usually means paying the cost of a broadband tower, which runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Few communities can afford that. Federal and provincial governments have, for many years, promised that all Canadians will receive service… eventually.
Caputo feels there’s a political will to do it. If he can convince the service providers to assume some social responsibility and build rural service into their own financial plans, he’ll be a hero.
Otherwise, rural areas will continue to be left in the dark.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.