Delivering High Speed Internet to More People in Southwestern Ontario

Published on September 08, 2020

ELGIN-MIDDLESEX-LONDON-- The governments of Canada and Ontario announced a major step in the expanding of broadband internet in Middlesex and Elgin Counties with the release of Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to $16.7 million in broadband infrastructure by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Inc., part of the province’s commitment to expanding access to broadband internet in rural and underserved areas.

 

The announcement was made by Jeff Yurek, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London and Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, on behalf of Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

 

“I am very proud that our government recognizes the significant need for expanded access to broadband in Elgin-Middlesex,” said Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek. “By continuing to help bridge connectivity gaps in our communities, even more families and businesses will be able to enjoy a world of new opportunities.”

 

The contracts, awarded by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT), are the latest step in the expansion of broadband internet access in Southwestern Ontario.

 

"We invested to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023 through the Connect to Innovate program,” said the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development. “Work is underway every day and in the next 18 months, we will connect 250,000 of these households. Our ambitious plan is working because we are working with our partners at the community level. We are about to open new calls for proposals to connect 100% of Canada’s communities to reliable, quality internet access. Our number one goal over the coming months will be supporting high quality plans and applications from every community who needs better access. Together, with partners like those involved here in Middlesex and Elgin Counties, we will achieve universal internet access so that geography does not determine any Canadian’s access to essential services, working from home and connecting with their loved ones. Congratulations to all the partners involved in this project by SWIFT!”

 

“Broadband access is crucial for those in rural communities so they can bank, shop and connect with friends just as easily as those in city centres,” said MPP McNaughton. “Since forming government just over two years ago, we haven’t taken our foot off the pedal in this pursuit.”

 

“As SWIFT continues to move forward with its Southwestern Ontario broadband expansion plan, we would like to thank the government of Ontario and Canada for their ongoing support and for taking decisive action to address broadband service gaps across rural Ontario,” says SWIFT Board Chair David Mayberry. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with our community partners and all levels of government to deliver high-speed broadband services to underserved communities across Southwestern Ontario.”

 

The RFP for Middlesex County will close on November 6th and Elgin County will close on November 27th. Contracts will be awarded, and service provider agreements put in place shortly after the RFPs close.

 

The  governments of Canada and Ontario recognize the importance of rural broadband access for individuals, families and businesses and that has been reinforced by recent challenges. Work continues toward bridging the gaps in broadband access in Southwestern Ontario as part of a combined $190 million investment to bring fast, reliable and affordable internet to thousands of homes and businesses. 

 

Creating more ways to strengthen rural economies is part of the government's plan to build Ontario together. Reliable and affordable broadband internet will allow communities to attract new development, strengthen local economies and create more well-paying jobs and opportunities in rural Ontario.

 

QUICK FACTS

 

  • The governments of Canada and Ontario are each contributing more than $63 million to SWIFT through the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – Small Communities Fund of the Investing in Canada
  • As part of this investment, a Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to $16.7 million in broadband infrastructure were issued in Middlesex and Elgin Counties.
  • SWIFT Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario that will support the critical expansion of broadband to underserved areas.

 

  • The Ontario government’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan is expected to generate up to $1 billion in total investment over five years, resulting in new connections for up to 220,000 homes and businesses. This will lead to community, social and economic benefits well beyond the provincial investment.

 

  • The Ontario government will continue to expand access to broadband and cellular service through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON). This multi-year program aims to support approved projects as early as 2021.