Canada is going in a somewhat different direction from the U.S. when it comes to broadband mapping. The Canadian government has awarded a contract to create a broadband map to a company that uses artificial intelligence to mine numerous geospatial datasets that together will paint a picture of broadband availability.
The chosen vendor, Ecopia AI, converts high-resolution images into high-definition vector maps that can be embedded into applications. The company says its vector maps are used by hundreds of commercial and government applications in more than 100 countries worldwide.
More than half of rural Canadian communities don’t have access to broadband, according to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). And many “broadband serviceable locations” are in remote and indigenous communities.
Work on the map is ongoing and delivery is expected in March.
“High-speed Internet is essential to ensure all Canadians can participate in the digital economy, and Canadians in rural and remote communities have long had less access to high-speed Internet than those living in urban areas. More precise geospatial data will help us plan and build the telecommunications infrastructure required to address this connectivity gap,” said the Honorable Gudie Hutchings, Canada’s Minister for Rural Economic Development, in a press release.
“Ecopia’s innovative approach to analyzing geospatial data is helping us better understand the precise location of Canadian households and exactly what will be needed to meet our goal of connecting 98% of Canadians by 2026, and all Canadians by 2030.”
The news about the award of the Canadian broadband mapping contract comes at a time when a similar U.S. contract has yet to be awarded. There is general agreement that broadband maps in the U.S. need to be upgraded, and a contract was tentatively awarded to CostQuest. However, LightBox has challenged that award. Those familiar with the situation suggest that accurate broadband maps of the United States won’t be available until next year.