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July 15, 2010

Rural Communities Connected to More Opportunities

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Most people remember the days of dial-up and many still have not had the opportunity to switch to high-speed. But thanks to a provincial pilot program dial-up is losing its grip on rural Alberta. The Rural Connections: Community Broadband Infrastructure Pilot Program has $2.4 million to fund small community projects that will connect rural Albertans to high-speed internet, training, and videoconferencing.

“The internet opens so many doors for Albertans,” says Jack Hayden, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Minister. “It broadens their business opportunities, helps them stay connected with loved ones, and exposes them to an extensive knowledge base.

The Rural Connections program provides funding for five different projects:
·    East Smokey Gas Co-op Ltd has been given $500,000
·    Lac La Biche District Natural Gas Co-op Ltd  has been given $500,000
·    The Green Hectares Corporation has been given $446,105
·    Ponoka County has been given $500,000
·    The Community Learning Network has been given $500,000

Rural Connections: Community Broadband Infrastructure Pilot Program funding opportunities were made available through the Government of Canada’s Community Development Trust Fund. The program was fully subscribed on June 30 and though no further applications are being accepted, Rural Connections grants will change the lives of rural Albertans by offering a wider pool of opportunities.  Hayden says, “By extending the broadband network in rural areas, we are making it easier for people to access and transfer information and communicate.”

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