National broadband committee announced

The creation of a national broadband committee builds on the federal government’s promise to extend high-speed broadband access to remote areas, Industry Minister Allan Rock said Tuesday.

Rock announced that the National Selection Committee for the Broadband for Rural and Northern Development, a 24-member arm’s length taskforce, will review and recommend funding for high-speed Internet access projects targeted to rural, northern, First Nations and remote communities.

The broadband initiative is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to ensure broadband access to all Canadian communities by 2005; the committee will work towards driving advanced broadband applications such as, tele-health, distance learning and the delivery of government services and e-business, officials said.

“These 24 Canadians come from every region of Canada and represent a broad cross-section of professional backgrounds,” Rock said in a statement. “They come from academia, government, the private sector, health, education and community organizations. Their advice will be invaluable in achieving the goal of the pilot program: economic and social opportunities for Canadians in all parts of Canada. I look forward to receiving their recommendations.”

Originally launched last September, The Broadband for Rural and Northern Development pilot program was launched by Minister Rock and Andy Mitchell, secretary of state for rural development. The program supports the deployment of sustainable broadband services to underserved Canadian communities.

“Broadband is an important tool that will enable rural communities to access health care, education and life-long learning services as well as a competitive business environment,” Mitchell said.

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