August 25, 2022 0 comments
By Sam Odrowski
More than 630 families, businesses and farms are now connected to the Internet by fiber optics, thanks to an investment of $538,000 from the federal and provincial governments.
The investment provides the communities of Laurel, Salem and Camilla with high-speed Internet infrastructure, installed by Northern Frontenac Telephone Company (NFTC)
The broadband announcement was made at Dufferin Veterinary Services in Laurel last Friday (August 19) in the presence of MP Sylvia Jones, MP for Brampton East Maninder Sidhu, NFTC representatives and several city leaders.
Amaranth Deputy Mayor Chris Gerrits, who spoke at the announcement, said the problem of poor internet connectivity had really impacted the people of his town and the improvements would go a long way to helping them. sustain.
“In Amaranth, I know a few people there who are pensioners, they live in low areas where the line of sight [Internet] the service is not available at all,” Gerrits said.
One affected resident is a widow, whose children and grandchildren live abroad. She has to disconnect a hotspot from her library once a week and schedule calls to talk to them.
“It’s the only way she can communicate with her family, so having high-speed fiber is going to change her life,” Gerrits said.
He also highlighted the importance of having fiber optic infrastructure to attract private sector investment.
Amaranth owns 250 to 300 acres of land zoned for commercial industry which has remained undeveloped for 30 years. Now there is commercial development coming, but the developer needed to know that high-speed internet was available or on the way to make his decision.
“We’re looking at a development there that’s likely going to double the township’s tax base, just based on the 250 or 300 acres of commercial developments,” he noted. “That’s huge for our rural municipality, and that doesn’t even take into account home-based businesses or people who are now working remotely, partially or fully.”
The $538,000 investment in fiber optic infrastructure in Dufferin is being made in partnership with Southwestern Integrated Fiber Technology (SWIFT) Inc., a not-for-profit, municipally-led broadband expansion project. Its goal is to connect underserved communities and rural areas in Southwestern Ontario to high-speed Internet. The federal and provincial governments are currently contributing $63 million to SWIFT as part of Ontario’s $4 billion commitment to bring broadband to all areas of the province by 2025. More than 225 million dollars have already been invested by the private sector and both levels of government to bring high-speed Internet to more than 63,000 homes and businesses in southwestern Ontario through SWIFT.
“Access to high-speed internet is essential to ensure that farms, rural residents and businesses have the ability to run their business, attract new customers and employees and stay competitive in a growing market” said MPP Jones.
Since the pandemic hit in March 2020, working from home has been on the rise, highlighting the need for reliable high-speed internet in rural or underserved areas.
“When people started working remotely, when kids were trying to do their homework remotely, there was a huge interest in making sure they had that reliable use,” MPP Jones said.
“I think we also have to recognize that there was a personal side to it. During the pandemic, when we couldn’t communicate with our grandparents, when we couldn’t communicate so easily with our friends, we relied on Internet.
Mono Mayor John Creelman shared his excitement for SWIFT’s development, as the project was extended across Highway 10 to reach a part of Mono that previously lacked high-speed internet access.
“We are so happy to see it,” he said. “Even before the pandemic, there was this demand for broadband from every home-based business out there, and we have so much of it. They are in positions that require high speed and not just subpar service that only gives you emails, for example.
In addition to Mono, Project SWIFT was extended by NFTC to the Amaranth Municipal Office and Laurel Woods Elementary School at no additional cost, finding efficiencies in the project.
Meanwhile, MPP Jones highlighted the partnership with the federal government for Project SWIFT and the importance of working across party lines.
“I think it really speaks, when governments work together, who is the primary beneficiary? People who live in the community,” she remarked.
Brampton East MP Maninder Sidhu, who spoke on behalf of Quebec MP Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, said he was proud of the partnership with the provincial government to drive local investment in broadband infrastructure at high speed.
“Our government is pleased to support this project with an investment of more than $538,000 alongside the Government of Ontario and…SWIFT to provide residents with improved internet access, to connect with loved ones, customers and essential services.
MPP Jones noted that there are still pockets in Dufferin that don’t have high-speed internet, but the provincial goal is to have everyone connected by the end of 2025.