Andrew Wilkinson

Andrew Wilkinson

Subsidy hooks up businesses to Internet

The government will invest $2 million so rural and remote areas can access satellite Internet technology.

Fishing lodges and other rural businesses will be able to cast a line to customers much easier.

On Thursday, the provincial government announced it will invest $2 million so rural and remote areas can access satellite Internet technology.

“You can’t run a business with just a cell phone. You need to be hooked up to the Internet,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, during the announcement at Johnson’s Communication Systems in Vernon.

The government has partnered with Xplornet Communications and local installers to provide qualified businesses and residents with funding assistance for up to 50 per cent of installation costs up to a maximum of $250.

Among those who are expected to benefit are fishing and ski lodges, as well as guide outfitters.

“Small business can operate from any location in the province,” said Andrew Wilkinson, technology minister.

There are still some areas where wired or wireless broadband service is not available and satellite service makes the most sense.

“You get out into the valleys and it’s tough for them,” said Foster of residents in parts of rural Lumby, rural Enderby and Falkland.

Ninety per cent of B.C. residents currently receives high-speed Internet.

“We’re looking for complete coverage for  100 per cent of the population by 2021,” said Wilkinson.

Bill MacDonald, a senior vice-president with Xplornet, believes the government subsidy is important because it reduces the cost of the service for customers.

“Covering large distances for installation is expensive,” he said.

“This recognizes that Internet shouldn’t only be accessible but affordable no matter where you live.”

Besides businesses, it’s believed many rural residents will tap into the government subsidy to receive Internet.

“Children in school want the same opportunities as other children. Grandparents want to Skype with their grandchildren all around the world,” said Wilkinson.