Executive Summary

Connectivity impacts the work, education, health and safety, and overall quality of life of rural residents.

In September 2020, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) launched the Rural Connectivity Task Force (RCTF) to research the technical and regulatory barriers to good rural connectivity, identify policy solutions, and advocate for change.

After extensive research and many meetings with key industry experts, the RCTF has found that although Canada was once a leader in delivering communications services, we are falling behind other nations in providing cellular and internet services to all areas.

We need to take another look at all policy options and available technologies to meet present and future connectivity needs.

Although Saskatchewan has a major advantage in retaining a publicly owned telecommunications company, when it comes to expanding service levels we face major hurdles due to our widely spread, low-density population.

Connectivity impacts the work, education, health and safety, and overall quality of life of rural residents.

Without good connectivity, rural communities cannot compete with their urban neighbours and risk losing their most important resource: people. In Saskatchewan, where industries like agriculture drive the economy, maintaining and building our vibrant rural communities is crucial.

Many technologies connect us to the internet, including fibre optic and copper wireline, and modems, towers, and satellites that connect us wirelessly.

In Saskatchewan, with our immense geographic area and relatively small population, it is necessary to optimize the use of all these technologies.

More importantly, it is crucial that good public policy supports the effective use of public resources and incentivizes fair working relationships between the many players that must partner to ensure a high-functioning telecommunications network.

The RCTF has developed a series of recommendations organized into the following categories:

Working Together

Supporting shared access to infrastructure and fair partnerships between service providers.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

Simplifying Canada’s regulatory structure for greater accountability, transparency, and efficiency.

The Importance of Smaller Internet Service Providers

Supporting competition within the industry to ensure smaller players can survive, thrive, and support universal internet access.

Optimizing Public Resources

Optimizing government funding and managing spectrum effectively.

Regaining and Retaining Canadian Excellence

Ensuring that Canada takes a leadership role to build long-term sustainability within our telecommunications industry and infrastructure.

Taking Control of the Saskatchewan Advantage

Leveraging our Crown Corporations to ensure that Saskatchewan plays a leadership role in achieving universal connectivity and realising the social and economic benefits that come along with it.

Consumer Protection

Ensuring consumers are guaranteed high-quality, affordable internet service.

The Rural Connectivity Task Force has outlined key actions over the next 12 months to advocate for policy changes based on their recommendations. They will report back regularly on their progress to the APAS membership and other stakeholders, including the public.

Table of Contents

Learn more about APAS