Officials for the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) and the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC) expressed hope that the September 23 Throne Speech confirms the federal government’s past promises of investment in fast and reliable Internet and cellular service for all homes and businesses a priority. EORN has been working several years now on projects aimed at improving broadband service for all of Eastern Ontario, with emphasis on rural areas in the region which either lack broadband access or are limited to slow dial-up service through landline telephone connections.
“Already our region has lost more than 87,000 jobs and almost $5 billion in gross domestic product due to the pandemic,” stated Andy Letham, EOWC chairman. “Our long-term recovery will depend on investment in robust broadband that keeps pace with the demands of new technology.”
“If COVID-19 has done anything,” stated Murray Jones, EORN chairman, “it has created consensus across governments and political parties that rural broadband must be a top priority. We must turn that consensus into action. The second wave of the pandemic is just reinforcing how critical connectivity is for our lives, from school and health care to the very survival of many businesses.”
EORN is seeking federal and provincial financial support for its Gig project, the next phase of the group’s Regional Broadband Project (RBP). The project is a public-private partnership that the EOWC launched several years to improve rural Internet service throughout Eastern Ontario.
The Gig project, estimated at $1.6 billion, requires investment from the federal, provincial and regional levels and also investment in kind from private sector broadband companies. The project, when completed, would provide ultra-fast Internet service for the region to match current global broadband speed standards of almost 100 Megabytes per second for upload.