NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO – Northern Ontario learned a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those lessons was how slow the internet is in rural and remote communities.
When Ontarians had to work remotely, the speed of the world wide web didn’t feel like remote work was going to be the future of business, but an unnerving struggle to remain calm after zoom calls dropped unexpectedly due to a poor signal.
The economy is connected to the internet in so many ways; therefore, to remain a contributor those connections need to remain strong and not be bogged down by unexpected low bandwidth.
So far, the Ontario government has committed over $950 million to nearly 190 broadband, cellular and satellite projects to date. This will mean that 375,000 homes and businesses across the province will finally have access to broadband internet.
“Our government is ensuring every community in Ontario has access to reliable high-speed internet,” said Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure. “We are making tremendous progress towards building a stronger Ontario, where everyone will have access to health services, be able to work and learn online, and participate in the agriculture sector, while also helping to create jobs and invest in the future of our province, today and for generations to come.”
The province has signed agreements with eight internet service providers to bring access to as many as 339 municipalities across Ontario. For Northwestern Ontario, the provincial government is funding $150.2 million to the Community Network Partners to serve 9,397 homes and businesses while Bell Canada will receive $483.8 million to service 82,632 homes and businesses.
“This competitive process is the first of its kind in Canada and has led to an unprecedented market response and commitment to deliver high-speed internet connections to communities that have been left underserved until now,” said Michael Lindsay, President and CEO of Infrastructure Ontario. "We at Infrastructure Ontario are proud to help create a connected, modern and competitive Ontario.”
To date, Bell Canada has invested $650 million in partnership with the Government of Ontario. Now they plan on deploying its all-fibre network to many communities throughout the province, including Bracebridge, Carleton Place, French River, Hastings Highlands, Huntsville, Kenora, Madoc, McKellar, Mississippi Mills, Nipissing, Renfrew, Sundridge, Thunder Bay and Timmins.
"Bell is proud to partner with the Government of Ontario on this historic initiative to bring our all-fibre broadband network to even more hard-to-reach communities across the province," said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE and Bell. "In 2022 alone, Bell's capital expenditures will reach approximately $5 billion, an unprecedented commitment to invest in building better communities across Canada, made possible by progressive policies at all levels of government to encourage facilities-based competition and investment."
Community Network Partners will be connecting the remaining communities including Atikokan, Emo, Fort Frances, Greenstone, Hornepayne, Rainy River, Wawa, and White River.