All of CK soon to be connected to high-speed internet

(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / gunnar3000)

Chatham-Kent is about to receive a major upgrade to its internet service.

Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) announced on Wednesday it will begin $19.3 million worth of projects soon (scattered from February-November) to bring high-speed fibre-optic broadband services to more than 4,584 homes and businesses across the municipality, including Delaware First Nation in Moraviantown.

SWIFT said the broadband investment will bring greater connectivity to further support online learning, increase work-from-home opportunities, and unlock greater economic growth potential for businesses throughout the region.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said this is an amazing day for Chatham-Kent because residents, particularly those in rural areas, have long expressed a strong desire for high-speed internet.

“Internet is as important to us as water, hydro, and natural gas,” said the mayor.

Delaware First Nation Chief Denise Stonefish said the new high-speed internet service will open up more opportunities her community.

“It’s going to open so many doors for us, especially our youth,” said Chief Stonefish. “A number of First Nations are isolated communities and in many cases more so than rural communities. Our communities are surrounded by trees, which does not do us any good to try and access internet technology.”

The MP for Chatham-Kent Leamington Dave Epp said this is a good first step forward but more work needs to be done. Epp added this will level the playing field for all, including farmers, small businesses, and families.

Local farm owner Jim Campbell said good, reliable internet is important to his business and agrees this is a great step to get started.

“When our family settled here in the 1830s, you looked for a spring where you could dig a well and get water,” he said. “Frankly, today with the technology at the farm, if I’m going to relocate my farm office I’m going to look to where I have a good internet connection.”

SWIFT said it will leverage $7.4 million in funding contributions from its member municipalities, including investments by Chatham-Kent, to support the expansion. SWIFT also thanked local service providers Cogeco and TekSavvy for their contribution of more than $11.9 million and their determination to get the work done. SWIFT Board Chair David Mayberry said without them Southwestern Ontario would have had an internet hole in its middle because Chatham-Kent was initially left out of government grants.

“The only place a hole is good for is in the middle of a donut,” Mayberry said.

The newly awarded projects will lay fibre-optic cabling along 227 kilometres of under-served roadway. TekSavvy Solutions has been awarded funding to support three fibre-to-the-home projects.

The newly awarded projects will collectively service 99 kilometres of under-served roadway to bring high-speed internet to 1,782 homes and businesses throughout the communities of Mitchell’s Bay, Highgate, Tupperville, Dover Centre, Grande Pointe, Louisville, Kent Bridge, Muirkirk and Duart, as well as in rural areas outside of Wallaceburg, Dresden, Thamesville, Bothwell and Pain Court. The projects represent a collective total investment of approximately $9.2 million and will be completed with service available between late 2021 and early 2022.

SWIFT has signed an agreement with Cogeco to deploy fibre cabling along more than 115 kilometres of under-served roadway throughout the communities of Erieau, Erie Beach, Dealtown, North Buxton, Charing Cross, Cedar Springs, Shrewsbury, Rondeau Bay Estates, New Scotland, Rondeau Park and Morpeth to deliver high-speed internet to 2,802 businesses and homes. Construction of the $9.4 million fibre-to-the-home solution is expected to be completed with service available early-2023.