Expanding Access to Broadband in Essex County

Faster, Reliable Internet will Support the Creation of Jobs and Economic Growth in Rural and Remote Ontario

ESSEX COUNTY – Over 540 homes and businesses in Essex County are one step closer to fast, reliable internet access with the beginning of construction of broadband infrastructure in the community.

The Governments of Canada and Ontario have each committed up to $330,000 to create more economic and educational opportunities in rural, remote and underserved areas of Essex County through an improved, modern broadband network.

Construction of the infrastructure network in the community of Lighthouse Cove is now underway with service expected to start in October 2021. This project is valued at $2.1 million and will deliver reliable internet access to more homes and businesses in underserved areas of the county.

The contracts to expand fibre-optic broadband services in Essex County were awarded by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Inc, a not-for-profit corporation initiated by local municipalities to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario. To date, more than 3,190 households and businesses in Southwestern Ontario have received access to improved broadband through SWIFT.

“Access to reliable high-speed Internet is critical for families and businesses, and the challenge of not having good quality internet service has been amplified during the pandemic,” said Irek Kusmierczyk, Member of Parliament for Windsor-Tecumseh and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. “Through strategic investments and collaboration with community partners, our government is committed to connecting families in Southwestern Ontario so they can stay in touch with loved ones, work or study from home, and access essential services.”

“The construction of broadband infrastructure in Essex County will help businesses to expand, create new jobs and connect more people to the services and information they need,” said the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Broadband connectivity provides our local businesses with access to a world of new online customers and provides rural residents with immediate access to friends and family members, as well as educational opportunities, health care, and a world of other services.”

“With all the struggles relating to COVID-19, our government knows the importance of having fast and reliable internet access in Ontario,” said Rick Nicholls, MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington. “This announcement for Lighthouse Cove will benefit businesses looking to connect globally as well as homeowners with personal and educational fiber optics needs”.

“We are pleased to announced that construction is now underway to improve broadband access in Essex County as the first project breaks ground in the community of Lighthouse Cove to bring high-speed service to 540 more locations,” said Gary McNamara, SWIFT Board Chair and Essex County Warden. “In a time when access to high-speed internet is critical, we are pleased to be working with the governments of Ontario and Canada to further expand broadband service across Southwestern Ontario.”

Efforts continue to bridge the gaps in broadband access in Southwestern Ontario, as part of a combined federal – provincial investment of more than $191 million to bring fast, reliable and affordable internet to thousands of homes and businesses. This will allow communities to attract new development, strengthen local economies and create more well-paying jobs and opportunities in rural Ontario.

Quick Facts

  • The governments of Canada and Ontario are each contributing more than $63 million to SWIFT through the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – Small Communities Fund of the Investing in Canada plan.
  • SWIFT Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario that will support the critical expansion of broadband to underserved areas.
  • The 2021 Budget commits a historic new investment of $2.8 billion in broadband infrastructure to ensure that every region in the province has access to reliable broadband by the end of 2025. This brings the Province’s total investment to nearly $4 billion over six years. This proactive approach is the largest single investment in broadband, in any province, by any government in Canadian history.
  • The Ontario government will continue to expand access to broadband and cellular service through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON). It has doubled its investment in the program to $300 million. This multi-year program aims to support approved projects as early as 2021.
  • The Province has invested in initiatives to improve connectivity across Eastern and Southwestern Ontario. It has also invested in broadband projects through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and the Next Generation Network Program.
  • Expanding access to broadband and cellular service is part of Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, which includes more than 30 projects that will change the way people and businesses interact with government.

SOURCE  Province of Ontario

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