Rural Internet Access Program
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 is enhancing Internet access in hard-to-reach areas by adding local Internet towers to boost signal reach.
Through this three-year program, the County offers incentives to Internet service providers (ISPs) who build smaller Internet towers in areas where there are gaps in service. The new towers - owned and maintained by the ISPs - act as a bridge between households and larger infrastructure towers, bringing high-speed Internet access to areas that are without. Local ISPs work directly with landowners to install towers in areas designated by the County.
Internet tower installs are planned, or underway, in the following areas. This list will be updated as additional locations are identified.
- Colonial Estates - in construction phase
- Jaymoor Estates - pending application approval
- Lueders Ridge - pending application approval
- Mark IV Estates - in construction phase
- McConnell Estates - pending application approval
- Richlyn Estates - pending application approval
- Royal Estates - in construction phase
- Wildwood Village - tower installed and operational
- Wye Knott Village - tower installed and operational
- Program research, plan and design
- County works with local ISPs, and gathers feedback from residents, to identify areas where Internet access is unsatisfactory
- Open house sessions throughout rural Strathcona County to share information about the program, and gather feedback from residents
- Installation of Internet towers, 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 has partnered with Strathcona County Library to install Internet towers at rural community halls where Internet access is unsatisfactory. This is 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.
Bookmobile 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.
Frequently asked questions
The County recognizes 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. Incentives provided to ISPs through the Rural Internet Access Program encourage local service providers to enhance and expand their Internet service in rural areas where it is needed most.
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.
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.
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 Strathcona County by phone 780-464-8024 or email "email@example.com":mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Internet towers are significantly smaller in size than the existing infrastructure towers. The towers are unsupported (not anchored by guy-wires). With a height range of 80 to 120 feet, they generally stand just above the tree line.
The County is working closely with local Internet service providers to address the needs of the highest number of rural residents, as quickly as possible. ISPs 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 if there are plans for a new tower in their area or subdivision. Visit the Rural Internet Access Program web page for updates on the status of planned tower locations, or call 780-464-8024.
Rural Internet Access Program
Information Technology Services