The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN), with the support of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC), has filed applications with the federal and provincial governments for financial support of the proposed Gig Project. The goal is to provide broadband Internet service at 1000 megabytes per second, or one gigabyte, to at least 95 per cent of households and businesses in Eastern Ontario before the next decade starts and make sure the region’s future economic development does not suffer.
“Rural areas are constantly falling behind as demand for broadband grows exponentially,” stated J. Murray Jones, EORN chairman, in a March 1 news release. “It’s time we fix it for good by building the Gig Project. It’s a lasting investment in our prosperity.”
The Gig Project will build on the original EORN regional broadband project, a private-public partnership that had the goal of providing high-speed Internet service at 10 Mbps download speed to all of Eastern Ontario. EORN’s new venture will also be a private-public partnership worth between $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion with the goal of providing one-gigabyte broadband service through a widespread fibre-optic network to 95 per cent of households and businesses in the region.
That goal exceeds the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) standard of 50 Mbps download speed and 10 Mbps upload speed as the “minimum basic service level” that Canadians can expect for their Internet service. A one-gigabyte setup will support real-time data sharing needed for “smart tech” systems that would help make local businesses more competitive in the e-commerce marketplace.
EORN seeks $200 million each from the federal and provincial governments for the project. The rest of financing would come through the Canada Infrastructure Bank and through the private sector. EORN officials indicate that a fully-funded Gig Project could have ultra-fast broadband service for more than 550,000 households and businesses in Eastern Ontario by 2025 or 2026.