Joined by Chief Administrative Officer Pierre Voisine, Member of Parliament Francis Drouin and Bell representative Matt Henderson at Hammond Golf and Country Club, Mayor Zanth announced the entirety of the municipality would be connected to Bell’s Fibre network by the end of 2025, including the urban centre and rural villages.
« Every street of the municipality will be connected, » said Zanth. « It looks like 99 per cent of households will be included. »
Part of the federal and provincial initiative investing $362 million to connect every household in eastern Ontario to high-speed internet by 2030, and 98 per cent of households by 2025, Bell has already started laying cable in some of the villages of Clarence-Rockland.
Zanth was excited about the announcement, remarking on how high-speed internet will not only benefit residents, but be a boon for businesses both established and new.
With more people working from home and kids trying to take classes online, the pandemic exposed the challenges of the municipalities unequal access to stable, fast internet.
« Children and many teachers could not connect to their virtual classrooms, » said Zanth. « Many entrepreneurs wanted to sell their products and services on the web but were unable to do so with unstable or weak internet access. »
The derecho windstorm of May 2022 also highlighted the risks of limited connectivity, as many residents were unable to receive updates regarding power outages and the city’s emergency response which were largely distributed through email, social media and other online platforms.
« This was heartbreaking, » said Zanth.
Bell Fibe will be the only high-speed fibre-optic option available to residents for the time being, as the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled in 2021 that smaller internet providers were not allowed to ‘piggy-back’ off of the larger telecom companies’ fibre-optic networks.