The County of Grande Prairie is throwing its support behind a trio of local internet providers as they look to expand the reach of fast, reliable, rural broadband connectivity. Council has agreed to provide letters of support to Xplornet Communications, GPNetworks, and Canadian Fibre Optics for the Federal Universal Broadband Fund.

Reeve Leanne Beaupre says certain industry business models look at how many people can connect to their service against the possible return on investment. She adds reliable internet connection is an essential service and should be more widely available to anyone without costing an arm and a leg.

“We’ve been advocating for years whether, through the provincial, or federal government, that rural and remote Alberta deserves the same opportunity to participate in the world, whether it be for commerce or just quality of life. To be able to connect to your family overseas or 100 miles away, you should have the same opportunity that someone who lives in an urban centre has because they have a provider.”

The federal funding, with approximately $1.75 billion available to companies across the country, is meant to support projects looking to provide high-speed internet at 50/10 Megabits per second to rural and remote communities. Beaupre says while the companies don’t need to have a letter of support from members of county council, she thinks it doesn’t hurt to show higher levels of government that the local municipalities are on board.

“I certainly believe it gives their application more strength when the municipality supports their endeavour and what they’re trying to accomplish.”

According to the Government of Canada website, the projects will provide immediate connectivity improvements, with funded projects expected to be wrapped by the fall.