Feds invest $9 million in rural high speed internet


By Kate Jackman-Atkinson

The Neepawa Banner

On July 29, the federal government announced $9 million in funding to expand the availability of rural high speed internet in the area. To delivery the service, the government will partner with Brandon-based NetSet Communications on the construction of 16 new towers, which will reach 10,000 more area homes.  The total cost of the project is expected to cost $25 million and be completed by June 2017.

Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette Member of Parliament Robert Sopuck, who announced the funding, said that the main feature of these new towers will be their height.  At 250 feet, they are twice as high as those currently being used.  With the construction of new, higher, towers, Sopuck said that some smaller, existing ones will be moved to bring service to dead spots. 

Robbie Zetariuk, director of Marketing and Dealer Development for NetSet, said that the new towers will allow them to provide faster speeds than currently available. “NetSet communications is proud of our rural roots and the ability of being able to provide fast, reliable, interference free Internet to the residents and businesses of Manitoba…The speed and reliability of Internet has an impact on every person and community from health care, education, agriculture, economic development to the simple joys of witnessing a child take their first big step from around the world.  Our sincere thanks to James Moore, Minister of Industry and the support of our MP's across the province for making this project a reality,” he said.

Sopuck has made rural connectivity one of his areas of focus and said, “[This] high-speed Internet announcement is great news for the Westman and Parkland areas of Manitoba. We live in an increasingly connected world where access to the internet is essential for participating in today’s digital economy.   It helps create jobs, realize economic opportunities and links residents and local businesses to online services as well as far-off family members and friends.”

Sopuck explained that NetSet was chosen after a formal request for proposals. He said that while some smaller companies also submitted proposals, they chose NetSet because of its established presence throughout the area. “NetSet had the capability to deliver across the entire constituency,” he said, adding that they were the ones that “connected all the dots”.

The funding is part of the Connecting Canadians program, which is backed by a $305-million commitment to connect an additional 280,000 households in rural and remote regions of the country to high-speed Internet services at minimum speeds of 5 megabits per second (Mbps).

The towers will reach residents in the municipalities of: Archie, Benito, Binscarth, Birtle, Blanshard,  Bowsman, Clanwilliam,  Erickson, Dauphin, Ellice, Ethelbert, Gilbert Plains,  Gladstone, Glenella, Grandview, Hamiota, Harrison-Park, Keeseekoowenin 61, Lakeview, Langford, Lansdowne, Lawrence, McCreary, Miniota, Minitonas, Minnedosa, Minto,  Mossey River, Mountain,  Neepawa, Ochre River, Odanah, Onanole, Rapid City, Roblin, Rosedale, Rossburn, Russell, Sandy Bay 5, Shellmouth-Boulton, Shell River, Hillsburg, Shoal Lake, Silver Creek, Strathclair, Swan River, Waywayseecappo FN, Westbourne and Winnipegosis.