The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is calling for improved broadband internet access in rural and remote areas.

Last week, it wrote a letter to the Wynne government asking that internet access be included in the province's infrastructure budget.

The chair of the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce says internet access is an essential service, especially for local businesses.

"An end goal is for the province to create some form of funded-matching formula that will incentivize and leverage investment so that small business in the remote areas can be more competitive," Tracy Nutt said.

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Last week, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce wrote to the Wynne government calling for a strategy to improve high speed internet in smaller communities. (Tim Wimborne/Reuters)

Providing quality internet access in rural and remote areas has been a challenge for Sudbury-based Vianet.

The company's director of business development notes that students living in remote areas also need the service.

"A lot of the people that we met, they were saying that their kids have to drive into town, into a coffee shop that has broadband or has good internet access to do their homework," Brian McCullah said.

"They can't do it at home."

Nutt said the lack of internet access in remote areas hurts the province's economic growth.

"Without the ability or with being underserviced with high speed for instance, those types of businesses just can't be as competitive as those that are in  larger centres that have far greater broadband capabilities."

The provincial government currently has a $160 billion infrastructure plan that will go towards transit, roads and bridges for 12 years.  

Nutt said the chamber is asking the province to include internet access in that budget as well.

With files from Samantha Lui. Edited/Packaged by Wendy Bird.