Out of necessity, Alberta has always been at the forefront of
technological development in Canada. This province was the first
area in North America to benefit from the use of cable modems, and
now boasts over 500 telecommunications companies that offer a
variety of services.
Nonetheless, Albertans living in more remote communities have
acutely felt the disparity between their levels of technological
advancement and those found in more urban areas. In the past, this
was troubling as remote communications were seen as a primary reason
for continued research and development in this area.
The Alberta Science and Research Authority (ASRA), a publicly
appointed body devoted to scientific progress throughout the
province, responded to this concern by releasing a report suggesting
ways to strengthen the information and communications technology
sector. Published in 1998, the report included a recommendation for
enhancing communications by creating a uniform level of basic
service throughout the province.
In February 2000, the government of Alberta acted on this
recommendation by initiating SuperNet, a high-speed, high-capacity
network that would link government offices, schools, health-care
facilities and libraries. The project would be jointly run by the
province and a private agency.
Two years later, the province announced an ambitious roll-out
schedule for their collaborative technology, and some of SuperNet’s
components became operational. 14 months later, 30 percent of
the proposed total network area was online, and schools were among
the program’s primary subscribers. These institutions paid an
affordable rate for access to this new infrastructure, and used it
to exchange distance learning materials.
Today, Alberta SuperNet offers broadband service to 4,700
individual facilities in over 420 communities. These
connections have been established through 12,000
kilometres of fibre optic cable, at the cost of nearly $200
million. SuperNet has also made remote communities more accessible to
service providers, resulting in increased levels of high-speed
internet and telecommunication services in these areas.
Because the private agencies responsible for building this
network also collect the revenues generated by it, SuperNet is
self-sustaining and has the capacity to grow as needs change.
Copyright © 2004
Heritage Community Foundation and
Telephone Historical Centre All Rights Reserved