New report takes a comprehensive look at Alberta’s internet gaps and opportunities

After a year of researching, Cybera (Alberta’s not-for-profit technology accelerator) has unveiled a comprehensive update to its State of Alberta Digital Infrastructure Report. This timely analysis comes as internet connectivity and access to high-speed broadband have taken on heightened levels of importance in the province, due to COVID-19.

The updated report, first published in 2014, provides an incredibly detailed review of Alberta’s digital capabilities. This includes an overview of networking policies, regulations, and fibre projects in the province, as well as new advancements in wireline, wireless and terrestrial technologies. 

While multiple levels of government have acknowledged and responded to Canada’s connectivity crisis over the course of the pandemic, the Digital Infrastructure Report shows that significant issues still persist, with existing programs and providers continuing to leave rural, remote and First Nations communities behind. 

The key issues and opportunities for Alberta identified in the report include: 

  • Gaps in broadband speed mapping (which are used by federal regulators to determine who should get infrastructure funding).
  • The emergence of community broadband networks. 
  • Changes to the Alberta 2018 SuperNet contract, including new requirements for supporting rural connectivity.
  • Emerging technologies, such as 5G, Internet of Things, and Low Earth Orbit satellites. 

After researching the current landscape, as well as larger national and international trends, Cybera has also offered a number of short- and long-term recommendations to the governments of Alberta and Canada for improving internet access.

Provincial recommendations

  • Launch an Alberta broadband strategy. 
  • Develop a coordinated approach to accessing the federal Universal Broadband Fund.
  • Leverage existing government-owned and non-profit fibre networks to make the province a national leader in broadband deployment.

National recommendations 

  • Modify the National Broadband Access Map (used to determine funding needs) to be more granular and accurate. 
  • Update telecoms legislation to close unfair regulatory loopholes, and encourage fair sharing of connectivity infrastructure. 
  • Ensure next generation technologies — including Low Earth Orbit satellites, 5G, mesh networking, and the Internet of Things — are utilized equitably across the country. 
  • Work with industry to develop and promote Internet Exchange Points. 

“The goal of the State of Alberta Digital Infrastructure Report is to provide decision makers, advocates and citizens with a broad overview of networking issues in Alberta,” says Dr. Barb Carra, President & CEO of Cybera. “Our hope is that this will drive positive changes towards universal access to high-speed, affordable internet, which will support the long-term economic and social growth of Alberta!” 

The report will exist as a living document that will be updated periodically to stay as current as possible. Members of the public are encouraged to contact Cybera with any updates they feel should be included in the State of Alberta Digital Infrastructure Report.


To view a wiki version of the report, click here.