Digital economy on the rise in Atlantic Canada, rural areas still lagging: report

Adrian Wyld / File / The Canadian Press

A new report says the digital economy appears to be on the rise in Atlantic Canada, thanks to a large increase in household internet usage.

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council says 88 per cent of households were using the internet in 2016, compared with 12 per cent in 1997.

The report card, issued Thursday by the independent policy research organization, says the rapid growth is due in part to download speeds increasing across the region, with New Brunswick having the fastest average download speed in Canada.

READ: Upcoming Nova Scotia budget to include improved broadband plan: minister

But, the council says download speeds and internet access remain much lower in rural communities.

In Prince Edward Island, for example, about 50 per cent of households do not have high-speed internet access.

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Senior policy analyst Fred Bergman says as the internet is increasingly used for streaming videos and music, online gaming and electronic purchases, download speeds have become a “key factor.”

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