COAST SALISH TERRITORY, December 22, 2016 – The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has declared broadband Internet a basic telecommunications service. This recent decision promises to connect First Nations communities, making a positive step forward in closing the digital divide.
First Nations represent the most rural, remote and underserved communities in Canada. Internet access is far too often either unavailable or unaffordable. This leaves most First Nations communities in British Columbia unable to access emergency services; access to modern health care, access to education technology and innovation as well as economic development opportunities in a knowledge based and connected economy.
CRTC’s investment of $750 million will support the development of broadband infrastructure that will serve 100% of the population at a new network speed of 50 Mbps download speed and 10 Mbps upload speed. First Nations communities will benefit exponentially from more affordable, equitable access to this basic service.
The First Nations Technology Council has a mandate from BC’s First Nations to ensure each community has the connectivity, services and capacity to fully utilize the benefits of digital technology. The Technology Council has worked diligently with provincial and national partners leading up to this decision and will continue to work with the CRTC and partners to ensure the framework and deployment of the infrastructure and services take into account BC’s unique geographic challenges and number of communities to be connected.
“We will work to ensure First Nations are factored into the federal funding commitments and included in all planning and deployment work.” Commented Tyrone McNeil, President of the First Nations Technology Council.
“This decision will be a critical lever in advancing better, faster, more affordable connectivity to BC’s First Nations communities. The state of connectivity in this province is currently completely inadequate and I look forward to working through innovative new solutions.” Denise Williams, Executive Director First Nations Technology Council
About the First Nations Technology Council
The First Nations Technology Council (http://www.technologycouncil.ca) is an enterprising non-profit that was created by First Nations communities and endorsed by the First Nations Leadership Council with a vision and a mandate to lead the advancement of digital technologies in First Nations communities. The Technology Council plays a specific role in convening government, industry, academic institutions and the social innovation sector to facilitate the development of digital ecosystems that are balanced in approach, harmonious with First Nations values and sustainable in operational and growth strategy. With Digital Skills Development at the heart of its purpose and work, the Technology Council offers a unique opportunity to get involved in building an Indigenous technology ecosystem led by First Nations and ground-breaking in the province.