GUELPH-ERAMOSA – Canada and Ontario are delivering on the commitment to create more economic and educational opportunities in rural, remote and underserved areas of the province through an improved, modern broadband network in Southwestern Ontario.
On Aug. 20 customers in Wellington County were the first to receive high-speed internet in Wellington County through the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman, was joined by Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece and Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott to mark the occasion.
Construction of the infrastructure network between Ariss and Elora in Wellington County is expected to be completed by September 2021. This project is valued at more than $2.6 million with the governments of Canada and Ontario each having committed more than $900,000 in support.
“We invested to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023 through the Connect to Innovate program,” said Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development.
“Work is underway every day and in the next 18 months, we will connect 250,000 of these households.”
She said the government is planning to open new calls for proposals for new projects across Canada.
“Our number one goal over the coming months will be supporting high quality plans and applications from every community who needs better access,” she said.
“Together, with partners like those involved here in Wellington County, we will achieve universal internet access so that geography does not determine any Canadian’s access to this essential service.
“Congratulations to all involved in the completion of this first project by SWIFT.”
Hardeman said that high speed internet is now a necessity.
“Far too many families and businesses in our community are frustrated because they don’t have a reliable internet connection,” he said.
“Our government’s investment in Wellington County will help connect them and create new opportunities.”
Arnott thanked everyone involved.
“I have been supporting the SWIFT proposal to expand affordable, high-speed Internet in our riding since 2014,” he said.
The Wellington County customers are the first in-service customers of the SWIFT funded network.
“Together with the support of the Government of Ontario and Canada, and in partnership with our municipal leaders, SWIFT will continue to deliver on its commitment to bring fast, reliable internet services to the region’s rural and underserved areas,” said David Mayberry, SWIFT board chair.
“Without funding for new high-capacity, high-quality infrastructure, costs would remain prohibitive,” said Antonius Peeters, CEO of EH!tel. “The funding provided by the governments of Ontario and Canada has not only made these projects feasible, it has stimulated competition and encouraged partnerships.
“We at EH!tel firmly believe that the benefits of this funding will, in the long run, exceed the borders defined by the selected projects and will allow broadband services to be extended to other communities.”
– 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 Ontario government’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan is expected to generate up to $1 billion in total investment over five years, resulting in new connections for up to 220,000 homes and businesses. This will lead to community, social and economic benefits well beyond the provincial investment.
– The Ontario government will continue to expand access to broadband and cellular service through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON). This multi-year program aims to support approved projects as early as 2021.