High-Speed Internet Being Extended Across Southwestern Ontario

Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus members Gerry Marshall and Randy Hope, Ontario Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli, Federal Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, MPP Deb Matthews, MP Peter Fragiskatos, and MP Kate Young at the London Roundhouse, July 26, 2016. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.)

Faster internet connectivity is coming to 300 communities across southwestern Ontario.

The federal and provincial governments have committed to kicking in $180-million in the Southwestern Ontario Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project. The investment will extend high-speed internet access to 3.5-million people in southwestern Ontario, as well as in Caledon and Niagara.

The announcement was made on Tuesday by Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli and Federal Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Navdeep Bains at the London Roundhouse.

The two levels of government have committed to pumping in $90-million each towards the $281-million project.

“It could be the key to helping small home-based businesses find new markets overseas, or it could allow a start-up company to function more efficiently ,” says Bains “We can no longer consider fast internet a luxury, it truly is a basic requirement as electricity or running water.”

SWIFT Chair Gerry Marshall says they are working on the timeline to install the new fiber optic network where it doesn’t currently exist.

“The next nine months will be spent doing gap analysis across all of our municipalities. So we want to look at all the municipalities and figure out what infrastructure exists today and where the gaps are and then roll that up into a concrete plan to roll out over a period of time,” says Marshall. “The short term says by 2023 we want to have what I call ‘downtown internet’ everywhere in southwestern Ontario.”

According to figures from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, a 10% increase in household broadband penetration could accelerate economic growth up to 1.5%.

London North Centre MPP Deb Matthews, London West MP Kate Young, and London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos were also in attendance at Tuesday’s announcement.