“If we can’t get the required speed, we can’t contribute to reinvigorating the economy,” said Stéphane Parisien, chief administrator for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR), explaining the need for The Gig Project that the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) is developing.
The Gig Project is a revision of the second phase of the original EORN Broadband project that aimed at upgrading and expanding Internet service throughout Eastern Ontario. The goal for Broadband Phase Two was to provide almost all households and businesses in the region with access to high-speed Internet service with a download speed of 50 megabytes per second and an upload speed of 10mps.
But the COVID-19 pandemic situation has prompted a goal change for the project. Parisien, who serves as the UCPR’s EORN liaison, noted that there has been a heavier demand on the existing regional Internet setup. More people are working from home, students are doing their school work from home, and businesses are doing more online sales and service orders.
“By the time we’ve upgraded to 50/10, we’ll be 20 years behind everyone else,” he said. “So, we’re saying, let’s go with one gigabyte (download/upload speed) with fibre connection. That is awfully fast.” One gigabyte equals 1000 megabytes. That means almost instant downloading and uploading of information.
A preliminary estimate of the cost for The Gig Project is between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion, with the majority of the project financing shared by the federal and provincial governments and the private sector. The same public-private partnership financed the first phase of the EORN Broadband project which upgraded Eastern Ontario’s then-existing Internet service.
UCPR council agreed during its June 24 session to provide a letter of support for The Gig Project. Now EORN is working out the details of its proposal to present to both senior levels of government and its existing private sector partners in the original Broadband project.