Rural Connections Broadband Program
Rural Connections Broadband Program (Rural Connections) is a four year program designed to reduce broadband infrastructure gaps in rural southern Ontario.
Broadband, also known as high-speed Internet, combines telecommunications infrastructure and service, allowing end-users to use the Internet at speeds far greater than traditional dial-up service allows.
The Rural Connections Program is part of the government's Digital Strategy for Ontario. Ontario's Digital Strategy outlines a plan for coordinating relevant government investments and for building partnerships between governments, the information and communications technology companies, Internet service providers, content creators, citizens and researchers to ensure Ontario can lead in the digital economy. Strategic investments in broadband infrastructure will continue to help rural communities foster partnerships and pursue innovative approaches to promote social and economic development, and improve access to government programs and services.
Rural municipalities in southern Ontario that meet the eligibility requirements can apply for provincial funding individually - or jointly with other municipalities through one lead applicant - for up to one third of eligible approved project costs to a maximum of $1 million per application. Municipalities are responsible for securing the remaining project costs. The program requires municipalities to demonstrate they are working in partnership with community stakeholders and other partners to develop and implement a plan designed to improve broadband accessibility in rural areas.
Selected projects must also include a plan for long-term sustainability that addresses such components as uptake and utilization of the new infrastructure by residents, businesses and the community at large.
Objectives and Priorities
- Reduce broadband infrastructure gaps in rural southern Ontario.
- Enable small and medium size enterprises in rural southern Ontario to fully participate in the digital economy.
- Improve public access to government services and information.
- Support businesses and citizens to effectively utilize broadband for economic and social development.
- Help make Ontario more productive, innovative, and competitive in the digital economy.
- Enable a diversified economy in rural communities that fosters entrepreneurship and enables the growth of small and medium enterprises.
- Enhance the quality of life of people in rural areas of southern Ontario through improved access to multi-level government information and services, education and skills training, health care, and community and global information resources.