Nicholls announces local expansion of broadband

Rick Nicholls. (Photo courtesy of Rick Nicholls via Facebook)

The call for proposals has been put out for the expansion of internet service in Essex County.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls announced on Wednesday a Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to $12.8 million for the purpose of expanding broadband in Essex County by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology Inc., or SWIFT. Nicholls made the announcement on behalf of Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.

The expansion is part of the provincial government’s commitment to improve broadband and cell service in rural and remote areas.

“With this significant investment in the infrastructure of Essex County, Minister Hardeman is equipping our rural community with the resources necessary to stay connected in the twenty-first century,” said Nicholls. “As we navigate a global pandemic, we realize now more than ever our reliance on high-speed internet for social interaction, entertainment and business. This funding is
a great example of how Ontario is supporting rural areas.”

Allan Thompson, SWIFT board member and chairman of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, said the need to keep Ontarians connected is more important than ever, as the pandemic has forced many people to work from home, and those in rural areas often deal with spotty connections or no service at all.

“At a time when people have become more dependent than ever on broadband, having access to high-speed internet is critical,” said SWIFT board member Allan Thompson. “SWIFT, together with our community leaders and local service providers, is committed to bringing southwestern Ontario’s underserviced communities online and high-speed internet access to thousands. Today, as a result of our public-private partnerships, SWIFT is proud to announce that many more homes and businesses in Essex County will soon have greater access to reliable internet services.”

The RFP for Essex County broadband expansion is open through July 31.