Rural broadband Internet project funded by province and feds starts in Niagara

rural broadband Photo credit: Big Stock

The province along with the federal government has signed off on a project to deliver reliable Internet access to nearly 5,629 homes and businesses across rural Niagara within 18 months.

Both levels of government have each committed up to $4.4 million to create more economic and educational opportunities in rural, remote, and underserved areas of Southwestern Ontario through an improved, modern broadband network.

Construction of the infrastructure network is expected to be up and running with service expected to start through the second half of 2022.

The projects are valued at $21.2 million and will deliver reliable internet access to more homes and businesses in underserved areas of Niagara. 

The contracts to expand fibre-optic broadband services in Niagara were awarded by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Inc, a not-for-profit corporation initiated by local municipalities to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario.

“The construction of broadband infrastructure in Niagara will help businesses to expand, create new job opportunities and connect more people to the services and information they need,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“These investments will mean more access to high-speed internet for my constituents in Niagara West,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

“Since first being elected, I promised to advocate for investments in rural broadband, and the signing of these contracts demonstrates that concrete action is being taken for those living in rural parts of the riding.”

The expansion of broadband is an important development, said Wayne Olsen, Councillor for the Town of Pelham, and a local advocate for rural connectivity. “We have had rural students move into town to get better access to Internet.  Small businesses are creating new business models based on online access.  Local migrant workers rely on the Internet to keep in touch with their families.  More and more of our local agricultural operations are based on online access.”

The provincial government said the new connections will allow communities to attract new development, strengthen local economies and create more well-paying jobs and opportunities in rural Ontario.