Broadband Funding Opportunities
Ontario Bringing High-Speed Internet Access to Remote Communities
Satellite service will support hard to reach areas
August 30, 2023 - Ministry of Infrastructure
TORONTO — The Ontario government will use a satellite internet service provider to bring high-speed internet access to approximately 43,000 unserved and underserved homes and businesses, marking another milestone in the province’s plan to help bring connectivity to every community by the end of 2025.
“Our government has made incredible progress on filling high-speed internet service gaps across the province, but we know more needs to be done,” said Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure. “Where ground-based infrastructure is currently not an option, a qualified satellite service provider will ensure that the hardest to reach areas of our province will have access to reliable high-speed internet.”
In partnership with Infrastructure Ontario, the province has launched a competitive process to find qualified satellite internet service providers. Interested service providers can visit www.merx.com to download the Request for Qualifications (RFQ).
“Infrastructure Ontario is proud to embark on a new, first of its kind procurement for satellite service in Canada,” said Michael Lindsay, President and CEO of Infrastructure Ontario. “Finding economically and technically-viable market solutions for this ambitious government goal has made Ontario a leader in the field of making high-speed internet accessible to everyone.”
Ontario is investing nearly $4 billion to help bring access to reliable high-speed internet for every community across the province. This is the largest single investment in high-speed internet, in any province, by any government in Canadian history.
- As of August 2023, Ontario has finalized agreements totalling more than $2.3 billion for nearly 200 high-speed internet and cellular projects that will bring access to more than 500,000 homes and businesses across the province.
- This year, Ontario launched a new interactive online map that shows where provincially funded high-speed internet projects are planned, currently under way or have been recently completed. Ontarians can use the map to learn about projects in their area and find out where high-speed internet service is currently available.
- High-speed internet provides easy access to more than 55 ServiceOntario online services. Renew your health card, driver’s products and more at Ontario.ca/Renew, book appointments at Ontario.ca/Appointment, and sign up for important renewal reminders at Ontario.ca/Reminders or at 1-800-387-3445 (TTY 1-800-268-7095).
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Broadband Fund Project
In January 2020, the Township partnered with Beausoleil First Nation to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to identify a potential vendor or vendors to move forward with an application to the CRTC Broadband Fund Program, which was scheduled to close in March 2020. The RFP process was successful in determining the willingness of Internet Service Providers to consider investment in broadband infrastructure in specific regions of the Township. Two responses were received with additional providers indicating they would be proceeding with their own applications, which if successful would reduce the unserved/underserved numbers by up to one-third.
The Broadband Ad Hoc Committee determined that based on the financial projections, potential number of dwellings served, and the level of financial contribution required would render the Township's application unsuccessful.
Letters of support from Mayor Cornell were provided to those ISP's who submitted their application to the CRTC Broadband Fund Program.
Click on the link for more information about the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Summary
At the municipal level, SWIFT, a network made up of the Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus and delivered in partnership with member municipalities and the government of Ontario and Canada, is committed to improving access to high-speed internet services across Southwestern Ontario. SWIFT has allocated $27.9 million to address gaps within the County of Simcoe.
The objective of the SWIFT Project is to expand the availability of Broadband Service to areas that do not currently do not have access. SWIFT will accomplish this by awarding funding to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to extend their own broadband infrastructure into underserved areas.
The Broadband Ad Hoc Committee contaced local ISPs to establish further communication regarding individual participation in the RFP process for the County of Simcoe. It was determined that Rogers, Bell, Xplornet, and Vianet have applied for this funding.
April 7, 2022: Midlandtoday.com article regarding broadband in Tiny: SWIFT bringing 'fast internet' to Tiny this year
Click on the link for more information about the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT)
Recent Government of Ontario Funding Announcement
On November 4, 2020, the Ontario Government announced an additional $680 million, nearly $1 billion in total, for broadband and cellular infrastructure over 6 years.
The announcement of an additional financial investment in the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program, means there will be opportunities to secure funds for a possible build in the coming years. The Province has indicated that they will use $150 million to top up the ICON program, bringing the total funding available through that program to $300 million. The ICON program requires capital investment from the private sector to leverage the funds and funding provided will not exceed 25% of total eligible costs. In this case, the Township would look to secure a private sector partner to collaborate with on a possible project.
The Township is paying close attention to further details regarding the remaining $530 million investment.
Click on the link for more information on the Recent Government of Ontario Announcement.
Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) Program
The Ontario government is investing $300 million in a program that when leveraged with partner funding has the potential to result in a total investment of nearly $1 Billion to improve broadband and cellular coverage in underserved and unserved communities.
The Broadband Ad Hoc Committee was informed that several Internet Service Providers have submitted applications during the first intake window, which would see a significant number of the Township's dwellings served. Letters of support were provided to the ISPs.
The project announcement is scheduled for Fall of 2020.
Click on the link for more information about the Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON).
Universal Broadband Fund
The Federal Government’s $1.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) program will support high-speed Internet projects across the country. The UBF has been designed to fund broadband infrastructure projects that will bring high-speed Internet at 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps) to rural and remote communities. In a recent announcement, the Government indicated that $150 million would be made available immediately, through its Rapid Response Stream, to support shovel ready projects that could be completed by the end of 2021. Additionally, funding applications are currently being received in the traditional stream.
Click on the link for more information about the Universal Broadband Fund.