Better Broadband Service Coming Soon to Wellington County
Investment will help farmers, businesses and rural residents take part in the digital economy
PALMERSTON — Ontario's Government is funding expansion of broadband internet into the southwest, Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton announced today, as he unveiled a key piece of the province's budget commitment to improve people's connections, no matter where they live.
The announcement means residents of Wellington County are one step closer to getting better high-speed internet, with the calls for bids from market players going out later this year.
"I've heard too many stories about parents sitting in fast-food restaurants or going to the local library to get Wi-Fi for their kids' homework," said McNaughton, who made the announcement at a local farm. "We want rural residents and businesses to be able to stream high-speed internet from their homes, farms and businesses. It's time smaller communities across the province joined the digital economy."
McNaughton announced the government has committed up to $63.7 million to Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT), a not-for-profit corporation initiated by local municipalities to address connectivity in the region. SWIFT projects will be delivered with support from other levels of government.
The investment is part of a $315 million commitment the provincial government is making to ensure communities across Ontario have access to high-speed internet and better cell phone service, fulfilling a campaign pledge.
"I'm proud to say we are keeping our commitments by investing in things that matter to people," said McNaughton. "Better broadband service is coming to Wellington County."
McNaughton was joined by Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece and Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Ernie Hardeman for the announcement.
"Affordable broadband connectivity is essential in rural Ontario to allow families to stay in touch, connect businesses with the world, and ensure Ontario is open for business and open for jobs," said Minister Hardeman. "Our government made a commitment to bring high-speed internet connectivity to the people of rural Ontario. Today, we're taking the next step in that commitment."
With better access, people can work remotely, access e-commerce platforms, learn online and research at home. People can also access health care and government services and stay connected to friends and family. Better internet means businesses will be able to connect to customers and new markets, making it easier to share information, close deals and process payments.
- Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) is a not-for-profit corporation initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, a group of 15 municipalities. SWIFT is focused on improving connectivity in Southwestern Ontario, Caledon and the Niagara Region. The project is delivered with support from Ontario and other levels of government.
- Ontario is supporting the SWIFT project in southwestern Ontario, committing up to $63.7 million in funding toward SWIFT’s total project costs of more than $190 million.
“I would like to thank Minister McNaughton for coming to Perth-Wellington to make this important SWIFT announcement. A lack of access to rural broadband is hindering economic growth and development in our rural communities. Our businesses need to market their products internationally and our families want to stay in touch with loved ones around the world.”
“Reliable high-speed internet is vital to the success of our farms and the well-being of families across Ontario. For too long, it hasn’t been available. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture applauds the Ontario government for making a priority of this and any other initiative that helps solve this problem.”
“SWIFT represents a significant change in the way we think about and fund investments in broadband. Today’s announcement is proof that we are moving in the right direction to address the region’s connectivity challenges. We need to narrow the digital divide and make small-town Ontario more competitive in the information economy.”
“Dedicated investment in broadband and cellular networks is good progress. People need to be connected to participate in today’s economy – broadband is a key part of Ontario’s infrastructure, especially for the many rural and northern communities that lag behind urban centres.”
“We are pleased by the government’s investment in critical broadband and cellular infrastructure in Southwestern Ontario. Access to high-speed internet is a basic requirement of the 21st century economy, much like roads, bridges, and electricity.”