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Rural Internet Access Program

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High-speed Internet access is increasingly important in everyday life, whether it’s required for school, business or even entertainment. Strathcona County has recognized that many rural residents within the County have unsatisfactory access to this service.

With its innovative Rural Internet Access Program, the County will enhance Internet access in hard-to-reach areas by adding local Internet towers to boost signal reach.

Through this three-year program, the County is offering incentives to Internet service providers (ISPs) who build smaller Internet towers in the areas where there are gaps in service. The new towers - owned and maintained by the ISPs - will act as a bridge between households and larger infrastructure towers, bringing high-speed Internet access to areas that are without. Local ISPs will work directly with landowners to install towers in areas designated by the County.

Rural Internet Access Program brochure (5.1 MB)

Open houses

Rural residents are invited to drop by an open house to learn more about the program. ISP representatives will share information about their incentives for residents interested in hosting a tower. Additional sessions will be held throughout the year.

Thursday, January 28, 2016
4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Strathcona Olympiette Centre
25-52029 Range Road 224 (Fultonvale)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Ardrossan Recreation Complex
80-1 Avenue, Ardrossan

Tower locations

Internet tower installs are planned, or underway, in the following areas. This list will be updated as additional locations are identified.

  • Wye Knott Village 
  • Wildwood Village
  • McConnell Estates
  • Lueders Ridge
  • Jaymoor Estates
  • Richlyn Estates
  • Mark IV Estates
  • Colonial Estates
  • Royal Estates

Project timeline

2015

  • Program research, plan and design.
  • County works with local ISPs, and gathers feedback from residents, to identify areas where Internet access is unsatisfactory.

2016-2017

  • Open house sessions throughout rural Strathcona County to share information about the program, and gather feedback from residents.
  • New Internet towers are installed, on a priority basis, throughout rural Strathcona County. Approximately 100 towers expected to be installed by end of 2017.

Partnership with Strathcona County Library

The County is partnering with Strathcona County Library to install Internet towers at most rural community halls. This is being made possible through the Library’s Bookmobile sponsor, Shell Canada Ltd. Thanks to this initiative, visitors will be able to enjoy unlimited free Internet access at these facilities.

Rural Strathcona County Library patrons will gain access to the Library’s entire suite of digital content and programming (such as eBooks, and downloadable music and movies), and be able to log into their accounts in real-time when they visit the Bookmobile. 

Frequently asked questions

What will the towers look like?

Local Internet towers are significantly smaller in size than the existing infrastructure towers. The towers are unsupported (not anchored by guy-wires) and unlit. With a height range of 80 to 120 feet, they generally stand just above the tree line.

I am a tenant. Can I host a tower?

The contract to host a tower is only possible between Internet service providers (ISPs) and landowners.

I am reluctant to have a new tower installed in my subdivision or near my home. Will I be able to have a say in this?

The County and Internet service providers (ISPs) are required to follow due process prior to the installation of a new tower. This includes notifying affected residents before proceeding, and addressing any issues and concerns. You can also contact the County by phone 780-464-8024 or email ruralinternet@strathcona.ca

There is a tower near my home but I still can’t get reliable high-speed Internet. What can I do?

Unfortunately, geographical features such as hilly and treed terrain may prevent a wireless signal from reaching your home. If you have confirmed with local Internet service providers (ISPs) that they are unable to provide Internet access to your home, you may want to consider other options such as installing an antenna or a small tower on your property, or going with a cellular data plan or satellite connection.

If a new tower goes up near my home, will I need to change my Internet service provider?

The County aims to limit the number of total new Internet towers needed by encouraging the expansion of existing networks. It is very likely that the Internet service provider (ISP) installing a tower near your home is the same provider that you currently use. There are four ISPs operating in rural Strathcona County, with limited overlap in their service territories. In the case that your current ISP is different, there is no obligation to switch to another provider.

Why is the County providing financial incentives to Internet service providers?

The County recognizes that there are significant up-front costs for Internet service providers (ISPs) to install new towers in order to provide Internet service in hard-to-reach rural areas where population is not as dense as in urban settings. By partnering with ISPs, the County is able to identify those rural areas with unsatisfactory Internet access. Funds provided to ISPs through the Program will encourage local service providers to enhance and expand their Internet service in rural areas where it is needed most.

Where will the new towers be located?

Internet service gaps are mostly found in regions south of Highway 16. The County is working closely with local Internet service providers (ISPs) to address the needs of the highest number of rural residents, as quickly as possible. ISPs will work directly with landowners to install new towers in areas designated by the County. Residents will receive a notice in the mail letting them know of plans for a new tower in their area or subdivision. Check the Rural Internet Access Program web page for updates on planned tower locations, or call 780-464-8024.

Further information

Kathi Day
Program Coordinator
Rural Internet Access Program
Information Technology Services

Phone: 780-464-8024
Cell: 587-334-0950
Email: ruralinternet@strathcona.ca

Last updated: Friday, January 15, 2016
Page ID: 37757