The Ontario government has taken a significant step toward getting high-speed internet in rural Lambton County.
The province announced a request for proposals in Wyoming on Friday through the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology [SWIFT] project.
Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton said up to $11.3-million is available in broadband infrastructure locally.
The labour minister said providing access to high-speed internet is essential in today’s digital world.
“This is going to help retain local businesses but also attract companies that put southwestern Ontario on a level playing field,” he said. “Being disconnected is being disadvantaged, whether that’s families, businesses or farmers.”
SWIFT Chair David Mayberry expects 50,000 homes and businesses in southwestern Ontario to be connected through the program.
“I’m not knocking the services providers at all, because it’s not that they haven’t done a good job, it’s that the demand is so much greater than the capacity of a wireless system,” said Mayberry. “We need to go to a fibre system because wireless just can’t meet the demand.”
Mayberry said high-speed internet allows businesses to attract new customers and allows families to keep in touch, stay on top of school work and connect to the rest of the world.
Prequalified internet service providers have until October to submit their bids. It’s hoped shovels will be in the ground early in the new year.
Wellington and Norfolk counties are also issuing RFPs under the SWIFT program.