Broadband and Cellular Connectivity in Ontario
AMO has long advocated for universal access to high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband and cellular connectivity for all Ontarians, regardless of where they live. The COVID-19 pandemic showed why having connectivity in households and businesses in the 21st century is a necessity, not a luxury.
In July 2019, the province created an Up to Speed Action Plan and has since invested nearly $4 billion in broadband and cellular programs to connect every region in Ontario to reliable, high-speed internet by the end of 2025. Two keystone projects include the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program and the Accelerated High-Speed Internet Program (ASHIP), through Ontario Connects.
These programs are addition to existing funding agreements with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) and the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology project (SWIFT).
At the federal level, the Government of Canada committed $2.75 billion in funding through the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) program. The program is designed to connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed internet by 2026 and achieve the national target of 100% connectivity by 2030.
Over the past year, the province introduced two pieces of legislation to help facilitate the buildouts of provincially designated broadband projects. These include the Building Broadband Faster Act, 2021 and Getting Ontario Connected Act, 2022. This legislation includes that municipal governments must provide information to Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of Infrastructure and should be read closely.
AMO remains neutral to technology or service providers and is simply focused on finding the most effective solutions to meet a critical need. We will continue to work with the Ministry of Infrastructure, Infrastructure Ontario, and other stakeholders to ensure funding programs leverage existing infrastructure investments and internet service providers (ISPs) who already operate in their communities.
Considerable effort is also being placed on ensuring the download/upload speeds at which these ISPs are agreeing to are met and in a timely manner.