(CHATHAM, ON) – Last week, SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology Inc published a position paper which gave prominence to Ontario’s increasing digital divide and provided an evidence-based case for continued investment in equitable access to ultra-high-speed broadband networks.
The perspectives and recommendations outlined in the paper were created in consultation with Chatham-Kent mayor, and SWIFT board member, Randy Hope.
“The expansion of ultra-high-speed broadband service throughout the region is as important to our economic development as is the construction of roads,” Hope said. “We’re talking about a digital highway that will provide rural communities with the ability to compete with major cities.”
In particular, the position paper highlighted broadband as a catalyst for innovation, economic prosperity, and global competitiveness.
Recommended Action Plan
- Develop and implement a provincial broadband plan that is aligned with federal, regional, municipal, and Indigenous partners. This plan should leverage the collective voice of the 3.5 million residents in SWIFT’s region, and voices from other funded community projects and unfunded communities, to maximize broadband infrastructure investments and create equitable, evidence-based provision of services,
- Provide long-term, predictable funding to models like SWIFT, which are overcoming Ontario’s connectivity barriers and meeting the unique needs of each community,
- Help Ontario to realize the CRTC’s universal service objective and SWIFT to achieve its goal of “broadband for everyone” by continuing to invest in the expansion of broadband infrastructure,
- Facilitate the deployment of communications infrastructure by introducing a Broadband Conduit Deployment Act, like that of the United States, to facilitate the faster and lower cost deployment of fibre optic infrastructure by municipalities and TSPs, and
- Unlock the tremendous potential of our province and create a safety net for individuals who cannot currently access Internet services due to remoteness of location or financial hardships by declaring broadband internet an essential utility.
“In advance of the upcoming provincial election, SWIFT is calling on the Government of Ontario to acknowledge the integral role that broadband plays in supporting all aspects of modern society and address the longstanding broadband infrastructure gaps that our province faces,” said Gerry Marshall, the board chair at SWIFT.