Libro Credit Union calling for better high-speed internet in rural communities
LONDON-BASED FINANCIAL SERVICES institution Libro Credit Union is calling on the federal government to increase funding and continue commitments to boost the internet connectivity of rural communities.
The credit union, which serves more than 106,000 client-owners in Southwestern Ontario, has written to the government with recommendations for change.
In the consultation letter, CEO Steve Bolton says: “Our current environment has shown the inequalities, inconsistencies and gaps between high-density population service and low-density population service. The need to be at 50mbps download and 10mbps upload is urgent and critical to the success, growth and continued growth of rural Canada.”
In response to the government’s invitation to comment on the Universal Broadband Fund, Libro is asking for a focus on local and regional telecom agencies that are building critical infrastructure, and for help to solve last-mile problems – getting services all the way to rural homes and businesses.
The fund will aim to distribute millions across rural Canada for infrastructure and broadband connectivity related projects. Additional recommendations from Libro focused on alignment of the province and federal government on projects, streamline funding streams into one channel, increase data collection for service support and support safety and security of rural Canadians.
Libro Credit Union CEO, Steve Bolton
There has never been a more important time to make sure everyone in Ontario has access to strong internet speeds, the credit union is saying, with Covid-19 creating the need to do business online. As a financial institution, Libro says it has first-hand knowledge of the growing need to offer services in new ways. One Payments Canada study, for example, shows 62 per cent of people are spending less cash and as more Canadians work and access social supports and services from home, the need will only continue to rise.
High-speed internet should be treated as an essential infrastructure need, Libro explains in its letter, adding that affordability for users also ranks highly after physical access to high speed infrastructure.
And the credit union congratulated the government for work already done, while expressing thanks for its openness to consult with businesses and thought leaders such as Libro.
“Libro was thrilled to see additional funding being spent on high-speed internet across all governments over the past year, and we hope that these funds are distributed effectively to ensure that these opportunities for growth and prosperity in southwestern Ontario are not missed,” Bolton adds. “The Universal Broadband Fund can be a catalyst for change in rural Canada.”