Improving broadband and cellular access

The province is making a historic investment of nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province.
The $680 million announced today is on top of the $315 million to support Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan. This funding will be used for shovel-ready projects starting in 2019-20, will create jobs, and connect unserved and underserved communities during COVID-19 and beyond.

“With the world online these days, if we are going to attract more investment to Ontario and compete in this highly competitive global marketplace, we need every part of our province connected with high-speed internet,” said Premier Doug Ford.

The investment announced today doubles funding for the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program, bringing the new total to $300 million. This program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in areas of need across Ontario. As part of Ontario’s broadband and cellular action plan, ICON is one of several provincial initiatives underway to improve connectivity across Northern, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario.

“Tomorrow, I’ll introduce Ontario’s 2020 Budget, the next phase of Ontario’s Action Plan,” Finance Minister Rod Phillips said. “The first pillar of this action plan is Protect, making good on Premier Ford’s commitment to do whatever it takes to get through the pandemic. The second pillar is Support, because we know COVID-19 has brought severe challenges and economic difficulties to families and employers across the province. The third pillar is Recover and includes today’s historic investment in broadband. Through initiatives like this, our government is laying the foundation for a strong economic recovery and a successful future.”

Over 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access, and as many as 12 per cent of households in Ontario, mostly in rural, remote or Northern areas, are underserved or unserved from the perspective of broadband, according to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) data.

“This investment will connect even more residents in communities across Ontario to faster, more reliable internet and cell service,” Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott said. “Today’s commitment to connect more people to reliable broadband and cellular service ― along with many others we’ve made ― will make it easier for more people to work and learn from home, run their businesses and connect with others.”

In October, the province released Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government. Improving access to broadband and cellular service is one of the initial projects. Through Ontario Onwards, the province will help make government services more efficient and the lives of people and businesses better.

Photo: “Today’s commitment to connect more people to reliable broadband and cellular service ― along with many others we’ve made ― will make it easier for more people to work and learn from home, run their businesses and connect with others,” said Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott. 

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