A telecommunications expert recommends SaskTel go back to its roots to help connect remote northern communities and First Nations to reliable Internet service.

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy released a report today on how this could be done.

The author of the report is Roland Renner.

He says it is often very expensive but the solution is for SaskTel and the provincial government to encourage small communities and band councils to form their own cooperatives to build last mile fibre or wireless facilities that can connect to SaskTel’s infrastructure.

Renner says it is a natural fit for Saskatchewan.

“In Saskatchewan with its cooperative history and the history of SaskTel going a step further in bringing service to rural areas beyond what private companies were historically not prepared to do…..those two factors can be brought together in a cooperative and positive way.”

He says this can be accomplished with funding, low interest loans and training.

Renner says band councils are already in a good position to make this happen.

“Well if you think of band councils and bands you have kind of a natural cooperative situation right at the beginning so I would see the advantages for northern Saskatchewan, particularly from an Aboriginal perspective is through the band you have a facility for organizing the people.”

He says similar programs have proven to be successful in a number of areas around the world including Scandinavia, South Korea and the Northwest Territories.

Renner says he hopes his research into the proposal will at least get people talking.