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Canora area locals say $80M SaskTel internet investment long overdue

SaskTel is investing around $1 billion to upgrade internet speeds in Saskatchewan, but it's coming too slow for some rural residents.
Fibre Optic Cable
Canora and Kamsack is 95 per cent covered with fast internet service.

CANORA — Crown corporation SaskTel said an additional $80 million is being invested to connect more than 22,000 more homes and businesses with high-speed internet in rural communities.

Now, two years into the project, towns listed in phase three – including Canora and Kamsack – are at 95 per cent covered with fast internet service. Once the program reaches its final stage reaching all 193 targeted towns, the investment will reach a billion dollars.

Yet progress has been too slow for some. It was also two years ago when Harvey Malanowich, a longtime Canora resident, switched his service provider.

Malanowich, a farmer and former director of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), said the Internet service was often too slow to use and took a toll on his remote work.

“I would have teleconference meetings online and I could never finish it up. It cut out on me and I could never get back into it. I missed a good portion of my meetings,” he said.

Even with the federal money, Malanowich is skeptical of more reliable SaskTel service in smaller communities.

“I've been hearing that [investment] for a lot of years but it doesn't seem to come forward.”

Called the Rural Fibre Initiative, the project follows the federal government’s set goal to provide access to high-speed Internet to 100 per cent of Canadian households by 2030 – it aims to bring fibre to 225 communities, and nearly 85 per cent of homes in the province by 2027.

“It will really have a revolutionary impact on the province as a whole, as it will allow residents across the province to get better access to anything that's available in the modern world,” said Greg Jacobs, communications manager at SaskTel.

Jacobs added the infrastructure project will fuel the digital economy and provide access to online healthcare and education services for all.

The effort to increase province-wide connectivity however isn’t new. SaskTel started converting copper networks to fibre in 2010 with urban centres like Regina, Saskatoon and Yorkton.

As for the reasons why the project is taking decades to complete, one challenge in meeting the scheduled timeline, Jacobs said, is the inclement weather, which stops workers from replacing the in-the-ground copper.

“The buried work has to stop once the ground freezes,” he said. “So that construction has to stop for several months of the year.”

With promising pictures being painted, Malanowich is now with Starlink, a satellite technology created by Elon Musk’s SpaceX for practical reasons.

Residents can expect to access internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload as the project completes. The full project community list with its timeline can be accessed on