OFA asking members to complete internet survey

OFA asking members to complete internet survey
Jul 20, 2023

This is the third OFA survey about internet connectivity

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is asking its members to participate in the 2023 OFA Internet Survey.

This survey is a follow up to the one the OFA conducted in 2020 and is the third connectivity survey the organization has conducted overall.

“This year we’re running questions similar to what we did in 2020, when we asked about changes to connectivity and the impact of poor connectivity and poor reliability on farm businesses and their ability to use digital ag and participate in the digital economy,” Peter Sykanda, farm policy analyst with the OFA, told Farms.com. “For this year we’ve also added questions around mobile and cellular connectivity to get a sense of dropped calls, data challenges and things like that.”

The 2020 survey showed that 62 per cent of respondents said internet outages cause an inability to conduct normal business activities. And 70 per cent of farmers believe they’re not getting value for the services they pay for.

And since the first one in 2015, the number of farmers requiring a stable internet connection to run their business has more than doubled.

Ontario is middle of the pack when it comes to general internet speeds in Canada.

Research from Hewlett Packard showed Ontario has a median fixed internet download speed of 84.42 Mbps, ranking the province sixth out of the 13 provinces and territories.

When it comes to rural connectivity, however, Ontario is in the lower ranks.

Data from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority collected between January 2020 and April 2022 shows, “Alberta and Ontario with 21.6Mbps, have slower rural download speeds than the national average.”

The average download speed for rural Canda as of May 31, 2022, was 22.04Mbps.

Internet connectivity appears to be a priority for governments.

The federal government committed to connecting 98 per cent and 100 per cent of Canadians to be connected to high-speed Internet by 2026 and 2030, respectively.

For context, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission “wants all Canadian homes and businesses to have access to broadband Internet speeds of at least 50 Mbps for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads.”

Communities are starting to see the federal and provincial investments into rural connectivity come to fruition, Sykanda says.

“There’s been significant contributions from both levels of government to help roll out the funding,” he said. “It seems like every other day there’s an announcement.”

The most recent announcement came on July 14, when the federal and provincial governments announced more than $4.5 million in funding for rural connectivity in Huron and Bruce Counties.

OMAFRA made three similar announcements in June, one in May and another in April.

OFA members have until August 1 to complete the survey.

“In terms of the surveys we do, this one seems to get a good response,” Sykanda said. “We really want to hear from our membership because we know how important reliable internet is to them.”

Once the OFA studies the data, the organization will make presentations on the results and use the findings to shape its advocacy work, Sykanda added.

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