How Universal Broadband Fund will affect Stettler and area

StettlerLocal.com January 13, 2021 @ 5:20am


In August 2020, Joseph Hoekstra, U of A student and Reporter for StetterLocal.com, wrote about the issues with the poor internet connection in Botha at his parents’ home and the issues it created to take his courses online. Online learning was in place for many months during the first wave of the pandemic restrictions and university and post-secondary learning has been delivered fully online ever since. At that time, the Stettler County Council had passed a motion to contact Alberta Infrastructure about the “huge deficit” with the Alberta rural internet.


On December 17, 2020, The Honourable Maryam Monsef, announced funding of $1 million for Netago Internet to bring high-speed Internet access to 7,179 underserved households in Starland County and Stettler County by November 15, 2021.


This project will improve broadband connectivity for 7,179 households in Eastern Central Alberta. It will create jobs, increase health and safety, and ensure a stronger economic recovery for Albertans. It is the first of many projects our government will support to ensure every Canadian has access to this essential service. It builds on our government's investments in rural Alberta, including 350 infrastructure projects and investments that will support connecting 39,000 households across the province to better Internet. - Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

Netago Internet, based in Hanna, and founded by Terry Duchcherer, provides Internet service, voice over IP phone service and web hosting and domains to residents and businesses in East Central Alberta. We spoke to Duchcherer about the broadband fund project and the impact it will have on Stettler County.


“The funding will provide an upgrade versus an expansion of services increasing from 20 MB to at least 50 MB per second download and 10 MB per second upload speeds by November 15, 2021 which is the CRTC objective for Canada. “ - Terry Duchcherer, Netago Internet


Netago has fibre optics lines in villages and towns and wireless in rural areas. Once the fibre optic lines are installed and operational, the villages and towns are taken off wireless, and this provides better wireless service to rural users. Netago has a tower in Erskine and in Stettler (FM radio tower) providing service primarily south of Highway 12. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include all areas in Stettler County but there may be other options in the future.


“We saw a huge increase in demand for Internet service since last March, we updated our equipment and bandwidth and have done what we can to maintain the areas we service.” - Terry Duchcherer, Netago Internet

Netago started providing service in 2005 to special areas including Starland County and the MD of Acadia expanding to Stettler County in 2016. While there are no rules to the areas that they can apply to provide service, Netago respects the competition and other small business Internet providers in the area. For more information on Netago Internet, visit https://www.netago.ca/


You can check your Internet speed at https://performance.cira.ca/ISED?lang=en


For more information on Canada’s Connectivity Strategy visit: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/139.nsf/eng/h_00002.html


Jody Craig, Reporter

StettlerLocal.com


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