At the September 18th Council meeting, Tina Thornton – Manager, Special Assignments with Nexicom, outlined the firm’s plans to launch new fibre-based internet service to three local communities with help from the Connect to Innovate Program. Launched last year by the department of Industry, Science and Economic Development branch of the federal government, the program will distribute $500 million by March, 2021, to successful applicants who bring high-speed Internet to rural and remote communities in Canada. The funding will encourage private infrastructure investment to these communities in which challenging geography and smaller populations make these kinds of infrastructure projects not economically justifiable.
This program will support new “backbone” infrastructure to connect institutions like schools and hospitals which are either fibre optic-based or built using a range of technologies including microwave and satellite service that provide an internet capacity of at least 1 Gbps. The program describes this kind of infrastructure as the modern day equivalent of building roads and railways to connect rural and remote areas. This program will provide residents in approved communities with access to essential technology so they can participate in our economy using new digital tools and cutting-edge services like tele-health and tele-learning and is part of the government’s strategy to position Canada as a global centre for innovation.
The average rural internet speeds range between 1 Mb to 3 Mb, which will not allow the operation of multiple devices, watching television or even completing research online. This means that working, learning or playing at home and online for many rural residents is out of the question. The installation of high speed internet is a deterrent for some prospective residents who opt for a more urban setting to avoid the problem.
Nexicom has made three submissions for ISED projects in the Warsaw and Douro area, South Monaghan and the Elizabethville, Garden Hill and Bewdley area. For each project, the “backbone” grant funding represents 75% of the installation costs, while the applicant must pay 100% of the costs to connect to each home and business in the area, which is called “last mile” expenditures. The total grant application for all three Nexicom projects is $2.9 million, with Nexicom’s portion of the total capital outlay just under $3 million. In each project, an Anchor institution is selected which will receive free connectivity. For these projects the anchors are the Warsaw Public School, the Otonabee-South Monaghan Library and the Ganaraska Conservation Centre. A section of the South Monaghan project runs through the south eastern portion of Cavan Monaghan, along Brackenridge Drive, Carmel and Deyell Lines.
There were 850 plus applications for this program and some approvals have already been announced. Nexicom asked that Council send a letter of support for the project to the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, MP who is the final approval authority, suggesting it could help boost the projects in the ongoing evaluation process which includes an evaluation of the proposal’s community benefits.
Council agreed with Nexicom’s assertion that reliable high speed internet is important to the future of rural communities and sent a letter of support to encourage a favourable decision for these projects. KG