Election leveraged to push for faster rural internet access

SWIFT has been slowly connection Southwestern Ontario by fibre optic.

It’s been almost two years since speedy broadband internet connections were promised to every corner of Southwestern Ontario.

But so far, the rollout has been about as slow as the old-fashioned dial-up connection, and the agency behind it is hoping to use the upcoming provincial election to throw a spotlight on the need to provide good internet access to rural Ontario - writes lfpress.com

This week Southwestern Ontario Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) released a position paper to prod the major political parties into making a commitment to speeding up rural internet access.

“We want their platforms to include a strategy to finish what SWIFT is starting so rural folks get the capacity they need to connect to school and government. It’s not reasonable to expect rural people won’t have the same ability to connect as urban folks,” said SWIFT executive director Geoff Hogan.

In July 2016 the federal and provincial governments promised funding for a $281-million project that will extend broadband fibre optic access to more than 300 communities with a total population of 3.5 million. Since then municipalities have kicked another $18 million to bring the total project to about $300 million.

Hogan said the first contracts to install the main corridors of fibre optic line will not be announced until late this summer and will take at least another two years to complete.

Only then will work begin for all the branch lines to connect all rural communities. Some of the lines will be installed above ground and some below ground, depending on the terrain and the cost.

Hogan noted the project, announced in 2016, had a five-year timeline, but he said the planning for the installation contracts to local telecom companies has taken longer than anticipated.

“It’s going a little slower than we hoped, but we really want to be sure we do this right.”

But Hogan said even after SWIFT’s $300-million program is completed, it will not be enough to connect everyone in the region.

“This is not going to get everyone connected in Southwestern Ontario. People wanted to be connected tomorrow.”

Hogan has heard stories of rural parents driving to cafes in urban areas just so their kids can get Wifi access to finish their homework.

The latest provincial budget unveiled last week committed $500 million to extend broadband access across Ontario, but most of the funds were targeted to eastern and northern Ontario with nothing specific for Southwestern Ontario.

“That’s $500 million for the whole province. We have $300 million just for the southwest and it’s not enough,” said Hogan Alex Benac, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli, said details of the broadband infrastructure funding and a draft of provincial broadband strategy will be released later this year. But he conceded the province has a ways to go.

“We have made significant investments and made major improvements, but we know there is more that must be done to connect everyone in Ontario to fast, reliable internet,” he said in a statement.

London West MPP Peggy Sattler said there is nothing so far in the NDP policy platform dealing with broadband access, but she said the party recognizes the need for SWIFT.

Sattler, a former school board trustee, said students in small rural high schools need access to online courses not offered in their schools. She said only 181 of the 4,900 schools in Ontario have been wired for broadband internet access.

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton said his party’s platform has not been announced, but the PCs support better broadband access in rural Ontario.

He said the Liberals government’s Jobs and Prosperity Fund should be used to improve internet access across the province, instead of handing out grants to individual companies.

“It would create a level playing field for all companies to grow,” he said.

McNaughton said he constantly get calls from residents, farmers and small businesses who need better internet access.

“It’s been promised for years and the people in rural Ontario aren’t seeing those promises being met.”



Percentage of population using fibre optic for broadband internet access

Canada: 10.4 per cent

United States: 11.1 per cent

Switzerland: 13.1 per cent

Mexico: 17.3 per cent

Turkey: 18.8 per cent

Australia: 28.5 per cent

Spain: 40 per cent

Norway: 40.6 per cent

Sweden: 58 per cent

Korea: 75.6 per cent

Japan: 76.2%

– Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Read more news of London on our site.

If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Comments are designed to communicate and discuss the features of an enterprise or event, as well as to find out the interesting questions on it.

Three people have been injured in a shooting in north London, police have said. The Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service were called at about 21:45 BST on Monday to reports of shots fired in Kingsbury Road, Brent, near to Kingsbury Tube station. They found two men and a woman with injuries, who were taken to hospital. None of the injuries was life-threatening and the shooting was "not terror-related", the Met said. The men - aged 18 and 24 - re...
The family of a man found drowned in Ibiza have accused Spanish police of not properly investigating his death. Anwaar Lahrichi-Greenwood, 24, from Edmonton, north London, was discovered floating in the harbour of San Antonio on 5 August after going missing from a nightclub. His family say they have gathered their own evidence and believe the Spanish authorities should be doing more. Spanish police have declined to comment on the investigation. A spokeswom...
The head of the London Fire Brigade has criticised Love Island for reinforcing the cliche of firefighters as muscle-bound male sex objects. Commissioner Dany Cotton said "offensive" stereotypes discouraged young women from joining the service. She criticised the ITV2 show for "rolling out every offensive cliche possible with their so-called 'fireman challenge'." The brigade also criticised an advert for Harpic toilet cleaner. Ms Cotton - the first woman to...
Police have discovered hundreds of cannabis farms in London over the last few years, official figures show. One cannabis farm is foundevery two days in the capital, according to the Scotland Yard data. The full scale of cannabis farming operationshavebeen revealed in figures obtained via a freedom of information request. The figuresshow that from January 2016 to April 2018, the police uncovered 314 cannabis farms, with instances of more than one farm appea...
A man whose spine was fractured in a homophobic attack during London Pride today said his life has been "ruined" by his assailant. Tom Barwick was brutally kicked in the back as he made his way home late at night following the Pride parade in London last month. His attacker called him a "f****** p***" immediately before the attack. Mr Barwick was struck on the back and suffered a fracture to his spine, before his attacker stole his phone and ran off. Polic...
A man has been charged with two counts of attempted murder after two women were critically injured in a hammer attack in south-east London. City worker Ania Gos, 30, and her 64-year-old mother were attacked at Adderley Gardens, Eltham, on Sunday -writes bbc Both remain in a critical condition in hospital, the Metropolitan Police said. Joe Xuereb, 27, of Greenwich, will appear at Bromley Magistrates' Court on Tuesday. He was arrested in Sidcup following a m...
Passengers travelling with banned items like CS spray, knives and air rifles are partly to blame for a doubling of crime at airports in two years, police have said. There were 5,234 crimes at or close to airports in England and Wales in 2017, compared with 2,432 in 2015. Vehicle crime and weapons are among the types of crime to have increased. Police said they confiscated small weapons from people whose own countries legally allow possession. The airport w...
Families living in a north London block of flats judged to be at risk of collapse have told the Victoria Derbyshire programme they are living in fear. Eighty seven households have been told to leave by the end of October, but only 19 have accepted accommodation. Checks after the Grenfell Tower fire found parts of the Tangmere block could fall if there was a gas explosion. Haringey Council said it was working with residents to find them new homes. Like many...
Cases of measles in Europe have hit a record high, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). More than 41,000 people have been infected in the first six months of 2018, leading to 37 deaths - writes bbc.com Last year there were 23,927 cases and the year before 5,273. Experts blame this surge in infections on a drop in the number of people being vaccinated. In England, there have been 807 cases so far this year. The WHO is calling on European countr...