High speed internet for remote areas of Lake Country, Enderby, Peachland, Armstrong and rural Vernon.

High speed internet for remote areas of Lake Country, Enderby, Peachland, Armstrong and rural Vernon.

Expanded coverage brings high-speed internet access to Okanagan communities

More rural communities throughout the North and Central Okanagan now have a high-speed internet connection due to $113,000 provincial grant to internet service provider ispeed Communications.

“British Columbians, no matter where they live, need a fast and reliable internet connection to access the services they count on and be part of the growing digital economy,” said Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims.

Sims likens the spread of high speed internet to the building of the railroad, in how it changed canada’s economy and culture. Unlike the hulking machines from days past, high speed internet is a cost effective way to make Canada industries competitive, remote areas safer and commuinities more connected.

For those who live in urban areas, it may seem as though internet technology is everywhere, but Sims said that’s not the case.

“We’ve noticed a growing disparity between the Lower Mainland and the rest of B.C., not just economically — there’s also a growing digital divide,” she said, adding that the government wants to even the playing field.

Sims met with residents, students and business owners near Kelowna to discuss the positive effects of a $113,000 provincial grant to local internet service provider ispeed Communications to bring high-speed internet access to communities including Lake Country, Enderby, Peachland, Armstrong and rural Vernon.

Sims met students and staff during a tour of the Interior Heavy Equipment Operator School in Lake Country on Thursday. The school prepares students to operate equipment like excavators and bulldozers. Staff say they have seen a recent hiring surge in sectors like oil and gas, construction and forestry.

“Interior Heavy Equipment School provides students with the practical skills they need to be job-ready for both the local and provincial sector. They have real impact on the province’s economy,” said Interior Heavy Equipment Operator School president Mike Hansen.

“Improved internet not only ensures our students have stable access to the online curriculum portion of the program, it’s a critical tool so that our site administrators can quickly access real-time student job leads.”

Community internet service provider ispeed Communications recently completed work to upgrade connectivity in an area, servicing approximately 3,180 households. More than 1,200 of these households had no access at all, while the remainder were limited to slower speeds.

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