A group representing municipalities in the region is hoping to bring communities and business together to lobby for faster internet speeds.
Celine Favreau, the Mid Sask Municipal Alliance’s planning and operations director, said the region’s slow internet speeds have been highlighted as it works on an investment attraction strategy.
“It was brought to our attention this last year our level of internet service is going to impede our ability to attract new investment into the region and, possibly, even new residents because our download speeds in rural Saskatchewan are nowhere near what they are in the cities.”
Much of the region is seeing speeds around 10 megabits per second – with some rural areas seeing less than five, while more businesses are starting to need speeds around 50 megabits per second.
“Saskatchewan is starting to fall behind nationally, so we’re not wanting to let that go too far before it gets too difficult to catch back up again,” Favreau said.
Favreau is looking into how regions in other parts of Canada have banded together to improve their internet speeds.
In her initial talks with municipalities and businesses in the regions, Favreau said there’s some interest in making investments to boost internet speeds. She’s aiming to bring these groups together in a partnership to encourage more improvements in a shorter time frame.
There have been initial conversations with SaskTel, but there’s concerns their targets won’t be enough to serve the region.
“We don’t necessary expect that SaskTel needs to do it alone. We’re interested in partnering with them to find solutions,” Favreau said, adding later that other service providers might also be part of the solution.
Mid Sask is planning to begin the effort to lobby for better interest by creating a steering committee in the coming months.
“We’ll start, down the road, to see where exactly the level of support is locally for doing something and what kind of levels of resources we have at the local level.”
Favreau is also encouraging area residents to go to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s website and test their internet speed. The data collected by the authority will help give Mid Sask a better idea about the online speed situation.