Premier Ford announces a multimillion-dollar commitment to rural broadband
By Diego Flammini
Ontario’s provincial government is taking steps to bring reliable broadband to more rural communities.
Premier Ford’s government “is investing $315 million to improve and expand broadband and cellular coverage in rural and northern Ontario as part of our government’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan,” the premier said during the Rural Ontario Municipal Association 2020 Conference on Monday.
Residents in Norfolk, Wellington and Lambton counties are among the beneficiaries of the investment.
Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) awarded three rural broadband contracts to service providers within those communities.
“We’re spending to the tune of $35 million worth of broadband infrastructure that will be implemented in those areas,” Barry Field, executive director of SWIFT, told Farms.com. “We’ll be serving just shy of 11,000 premises in 11 projects.”
Around $20 million of the total amount comes from the federal and provincial governments, with individual service providers making up the rest, Field said.
Reliable broadband is a necessity in today’s digital age.
So much so that in 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) deemed broadband an essential service.
And in its 2019 budget, the Trudeau government set out a plan to bring high-speed Internet to all Canadians by 2030.
“Access to the Internet is a great equalizer for everyone from farmers and business owners to students,” Field said. “With technology advancements, there’s lots of agricultural data that’s stored in a cloud or other manner. Without access to the Internet, how do you access that data or use it the way a farmer needs to?”
The rural broadband announcement is only one of several the Ontario government has made recently.
Read about more funding announcements here.