Ontario Delivering Better Services with Northern Broadband Project
New Approach Will Bring High-Performance Internet to Underserved Communities
Parry Sound - Ontario is supporting an innovative project that will bring high-performance broadband access to more than 200 homes, while providing a model for low-cost expansion to surrounding communities.
Parliamentary Assistant Donna Skelly, on behalf of Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, announced the launch of the first Northern Ontario Residential Broadband Project, part of the Next Generation Network Program. The project uses a microwave link to transmit high-speed broadband from Parry Sound to Carling Township, coupled with fibre-optic technology to bring access to individual homes — an approach that promises several benefits, including:
- Lower cost — this project will save $1.2 million (or 85%) on installation costs
- Services unaffected by terrain such as forests or lakes
- No need to hang cables or use poles, resulting in reduced maintenance costs
- No road or driveway repaving required.
"This exciting project takes on the challenges of getting reliable, high-performance internet to rural and remote communities," said PA Skelly. "This is great news for West Parry Sound, and for all the communities that will benefit from this technology in the future."
"In the 21st century, access to broadband internet is essential. Businesses, families, schools and hospitals in rural and Northern communities need fast connections just as much as in cities," said Minister Fedeli. "Our government is committed to making sure that communities everywhere in Ontario have the broadband and cellular connectivity they need and deserve."
"The importance of broadband access in rural areas cannot be overstated," said Norm Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka. "Parry Sound-Muskoka knows all too well how important connectivity is and how it can determine success in a myriad of ways. I am very pleased to see projects such as these come into the area."
The Next Generation Network Program is an Ontario government program delivered through a partnership between the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN), and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. The program helps Ontario companies develop and demonstrate innovative wired and wireless technology, products and services. Other projects in the program are focused on smart mining, smart agriculture and autonomous vehicles.
In July 2019, Ontario released a five-year Broadband and Cellular Action Plan, which includes a $315 million commitment to improve access to high-speed internet and cellular service for rural and remote communities.
"Families and businesses across Ontario expect to have access to high-speed internet and cellular service — no matter where they are," said Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott. "By making sure that everyone can take part in the digital economy, we're investing in things that matter most to the people and businesses of Ontario."
"CENGN is extremely pleased to be working with the West Parry Sound SMART Community Network and Vianet on this innovative and lower cost approach to extending high-performance broadband services to Carling Township," said JC Fahmy, President and CEO of CENGN. "The technology solution in this project will be a highly effective and re-usable network approach for other Ontario communities to significantly improve broadband services."
"For over 10 years West Parry Sound SMART has maintained a leadership position in researching, advocating and building resources that will position our underserved communities with world-class internet delivery systems in our rural, topographically featured region," said Lis McWalter, Chair of the West Parry Sound SMART Community Network. "The funding announced by CENGN is a catalyst that will move many opportunities into the realm of achievement and further quality of life and economic development possibilities. We look forward to discovering our potential as a full participant in Ontario and Canada's digital promise."
"Vianet is extremely proud to partner with CENGN and the Ontario government along with WPS Smart and the township of Carling to bring reliable broadband to another rural area of Ontario that so desperately needed it," said Brian McCullagh, Director of Business Development at Vianet. "We look forward to continuing our relationship with CENGN to further build upon this project bringing quality internet to rural Ontarians."
- Ontario has committed $63.3 million over five years to the Next Generation Network Program.
- This project is the first under the Northern Ontario Residential Broadband Program stream of the Next Generation Network Program. CENGN is currently evaluating new project proposals and communities for upcoming rounds of the stream.
- Over the coming months, the government will be consulting on ways to encourage investment into rural and undercapitalized areas of the province with the goal of restoring Ontario’s competitiveness and allowing the private sector to create jobs and growth.