REGINA - Monday, SaskTel announced the launch of its Rural Broadband Partnership Program, a new initiative that will see SaskTel partner with internet providers to bring advanced broadband connectivity to underserved farms, acreages, Indigenous communities and other hard to serve rural areas in Saskatchewan.
With the province’s largest wireline and wireless networks, SaskTel currently delivers broadband speeds that meet or exceed the CRTC’s 50/10 benchmark (50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload) to 85 per cent of the population of the province. Through this partnership program, SaskTel will work with internet providers to expand their coverage areas with the specific aim to bring 50/10 unlimited broadband service, or better, to more Saskatchewan households.
SaskTel has received strong interest in the Rural Broadband Partnership Program from several local rural internet providers, with H and K Rural Networks Inc, Living Sky Internet, and Wood River Controls currently signed on. Additionally, as the first provider to partner with SaskTel, Wood River Controls has already utilized the program to bring broadband service to the Last Mountain Lake area, the Muscowpetung First Nation and is also working on a project near Lake Diefenbaker.
“Muscowpetung hasn’t had the best internet and when the pandemic first hit, we saw how unprepared we were which is why we made it a top priority to get better internet service for our nation,” said Melissa Tavita, Chief of the Muscowpetung First Nation. “Thanks to the partnership between SaskTel and Wood River Controls, we’ve been able to get improved internet and are able to take our work home and have video conference calls while also having our children be able to do online learning in a smooth efficient way without lag or buffering. Looking ahead, it’s important that we continue to work on projects that improve the connectivity of our nation to bring us into 2021.”
The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), which created a Broadband Action Committee with the clear goal of improving broadband service for all underserved Saskatchewan residents, has also supported the development and launch of SaskTel’s partnership program.
“SARM aims to achieve parity for all Saskatchewan residents, regardless of your address, when it comes to the availability of this essential service that many rural areas are lacking,” said SARM President, Ray Orb. “COVID-19 identified the importance of immediate investment into broadband and enhanced collaboration between internet service providers. We are hopeful that this new program will be successful in both regards.”