Rural Saskatchewan getting more internet, mobile access thanks to federal funding

A cell tower. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick. skp

More connectivity is coming to Saskatchewan’s rural and remote communities.

That’s according to the federal minister of rural economic development Gudie Hutchings, who announced Friday the federal government is spending up to $37 million for projects that will improve high-speed internet access and mobile connectivity across the province.

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“Connectivity was an issue before, but now we are full steam ahead. We’ve made a commitment to have 98 per cent of Canada connected by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030,” Hutchings said.

She said they have 93.5 per cent connected today, noting that it was 79 per cent back in 2014.

When asked how difficult the remaining percentage will be to reach full connectivity, Hutchings said technology is always changing, and they have a team that is working with various internet service providers to get the job done.

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The funding will connect more than 5,000 homes in areas like Northern Saskatchewan, Prince Albert, Saskatoon-Biggar, Regina-Moose Mountain and Yorkton-Melville.

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“The department works with the internet service providers and they work on the engineering, they work on the planning, they work on the permitting. It’s not coming tomorrow, but these projects will be tracking to come online by 2026.”

The federal government website shows Saskatchewan sits at 81.6 per cent connected, and Hutchings noted part of the agreement was to show progress of the expansion as well.

She said there have also been discussions with Don Morgan, the provincial minister responsible for Crown corporations, to leverage partnerships to get Saskatchewan connected quicker.

“Connectivity isn’t a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity.”


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