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$2 million promised for improved broadband service

Published June 22, 2016

BY JENNIFER THURBIDE

Residents and businesses in Northwestern Ontario will soon be getting improved broadband internet service, says the Ontario government.

While in Red Lake for a Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation board meeting last week, Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle announced the province had committed more than $2.3 million to improve internet and broadband Ethernet services across the region.

“It is a huge project and our contribution will make a real difference in being able to make this happen and it is about us improving broadband and internet, if not cellphone access, for everybody in northern Ontario. We think that where you live should not impact your right to have access and this is what it is all about,” said Minister Gravelle on June 16 adding that these improvements have been ongoing across the north and will benefit 13,000 people.

“What this will do is make industry and business more competitive, help in the delivery of services like health care and education but also has the opportunity to improve internet access for residents as well.”

The service area includes Dryden, Kenora, Red Lake, Ear Falls, Sioux Lookout, Pickle Lake, Machin, Ignace, and Sioux Narrows-Nester Falls. The improvements will include upgrading existing telecommunications infrastructure and installing additional fibre and networking equipment for improved residential and commercial connectivity.

Chukuni Community Development Corporation (CCDC) lead Cathy Quesnel-Loessl says connection speeds will range from 5mb per second and 25mb per second download speeds with up to 10mb per second upload speeds and will be dependent upon the distance between the newly installed broadband equipment and the house and/or business.

“Whether supporting residential access to information, efficient delivery of education and health services, business connectivity to wide area networks and global markets, or keeping current on the latest social media applications, broadband connectivity is essential,” she added.

CCDC, along with Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corporation and Patricia Area Community Endeavours (PACE), has partnered with Bell Canada as the service provider and the project is expected to be completed by September 2017.

Mayor Phil Vinet says the initiative is a chance for northern Ontario businesses to take a large step into the global marketplace.

“When you get the opportunity to level the playing field, be it socially or economically it is a benefit to all of us, particularly the business applications. Even ourselves as individuals – we always talked about high speed internet, not half speed internet. Broadband access brings us into the proper century.”

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