With business meetings and classes for post-secondary students moving to a virtual format, the need for a reliable high-speed internet connection is more important than ever.

PG City Councillor Garth Frizzell attended a virtual meeting on Tuesday with the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services as part of 2021 BC Budget Deliberations
(Photo supplied by Garth Frizzell)

However, there is concern the increased traffic online could see the internet crash, leaving those in rural and northern communities in the dark.

Prince George City Councillor Garth Frizzell told MyPGNow.com despite the advancements made in technology, there are still two million Canadians who don’t have a reliable connection.

“And that’s most of the people living in rural, remote and northern communities. That’s a big chunk of our population in this area, Northern BC is larger than the country of France but we’ve only got 350,000 people and we don’t have reliable internet access to everybody.”

“We’ve been confined to our homes for months and while that is keeping us healthy and safe but what it’s shown for millions of us that we can turn to the internet for work, school or a basic human connection and that’s just not available for some.”

He stated the digital divide needs to be shored up for rural and remote residents in our area, especially those who work in the corporate sector.

“When you get to points as we did in the past year where we are relying on video conferencing and if a picture is worth a thousand words then a video conference takes up a thousand times more bandwidth and what we are looking at are significant challenges coming on.”

Frizzell taught a pair of summer classes at CNC this year and believes having reliable internet is crucial for students learning at home or aboard.

He added while most students prefer face-to-face interaction, this is the new reality for now.

“Both the students and instructors are having to adjust to this new reality and it’s just not business as usual anymore we have to work to make sure the students are asking questions and that the faculty are getting them engaged in the material.”

“It’s so important that we’re not just delivering content for grades but delivering content so that students understand the material and connect with it in their jobs and in their lives.”

Frizzell said a fibre optic connection that will stretch from PG to Dawson Creek is expected to be completed this summer, to help fill the gap.