Advanced Networks: What’s Happening in Your Region?

As connectivity to regional advanced networks becomes more viable for communities across Canada, national and regional discussions surrounding the challenges and success of super broadband networks also need to increase.

The panel Regional Developments in Advanced Networks: What's Happening in Your Region? was a fascinating introduction to how B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Atlantic Canada, and California are tackling issues concerning the connectivity and pervasiveness of advanced networks.  For all participants, the reach of their networks was a key indication of their success.  For example, Ontario's Orion connects 22 communities,  1.7 million researchers, scientists, and academics in 90 centers across the province. Similarly, one of Manitoba's greatest successes is connecting the North and South regions through access hubs, which brings greater connectivity to high schools and the aboriginal community.

While provincial successes were touched upon, the challenge of making a business case for providing a research and education network is still an obstacle for extending connectivity to rural locations.  Robin Winsor, Cybera's President and CEO noted that one million Albertans live in rural areas where the best access they have to the Internet is available in tiny rural centers scattered across the province. This means that people pay a lot of money for poor service.  The town of Olds, AB is striving to address this problem, pursuing access to cyberinfrastructure as an essential component of thriving businesses in the 21st century. As a part of these regional efforts, Cybera is looking to set up a public cyberinfrastructure utility in Olds. Winsor believes that this is the next big push for where to take the network in Alberta.