The Ontario government is making a historic investment of nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province, including for remote communities.
The $680 million announced yesterday is on top of the $315 million to support Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan. This funding will be used for shovel-ready projects starting in 2019-20, to connect unserved and underserved communities during COVID-19 and beyond.
“By providing high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved communities like Minden Hills, we will create good jobs, unlock new opportunities for businesses and people, and improve the quality of life for individuals and families,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “With the world online these days, if we are going to attract more investment to Ontario and compete in this highly competitive global marketplace, we need every part of our province connected with high-speed Internet.”
The investment announced today doubles funding for the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program, bringing the new total to $300 million. This program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in areas of need across Ontario. As part of Ontario’s broadband and cellular action plan, ICON is one of several provincial initiatives underway to improve connectivity across northern, eastern and southwestern Ontario.
According to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) data, more than 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access, and as many as 12 per cent of households in Ontario, mostly in rural, remote or northern areas, are underserved or unserved from the perspective of broadband.
“This investment will connect even more residents in communities across Ontario to faster, more reliable Internet and cell service,” said Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott. “Today’s commitment to connect more people to reliable broadband and cellular service ― along with many others we’ve made ― will make it easier for more people to work and learn from home, run their businesses and connect with others.”
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— Doug Ford (@fordnation) November 4, 2020
Featured image: Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott provide details of the broadband announcement at the Haliburton County Public Library in Minden Hills.