Not many things in life are as frustrating as slow Internet or not being able to access the Internet at all.
As mayor, i believe like most of you do, that in this day and age, high speed Internet is absolutely critical to keeping our rural lifestyle, to raising children in a rural environment, and to attracting and doing business in a rural community.
Some areas in our rural Ward 2 have access to high speed Internet now, but many areas, due to typography don’t. There are a number of Internet providers including: Xplornet, Airnet Wireless, WISP, and Bell and Rogers. But for those properties that don’t have good line of sight to wireless towers, their option is cellular internet access (typically expensive and through a “Hub” product) or by satellite (more expensive).
The government-funded Eastern Ontario Rural Network (EORN) whose mission it is to provide “higher speeds and bandwidth to at least 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Eastern Ontario” now had a 5,500-km network of new and existing fibre optic cable, with 160 new access points.
Recently, the EORN completed its $170-million fibre optic project that improved access to high speed Internet in areas of Hastings, Peterborough, Renfrew, Northumberland, Halliburton, Frontenac, Prince Edward, Lennox and Addington, the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, as well as the City of Kawartha Lakes. This has benefited urban areas but done little for the less densely populated rural areas, like our rural Ward 2 in Port Hope.
EORN has now proposed a $213 million public-private partnership to improve both the reach and quality of cellular data services in rural Eastern Ontario, which is essential for business investment, jobs and quality of life. About one quarter of Eastern Ontario where there are homes, businesses or major roads in the region cannot access any cellular services. And many areas don’t have enough capacity to meet growing demand for mobile broadband.
The EORN project is seeking one-third of the funding from the federal government, one-third from the provincial government and one-third from mobile carriers.
I know it’s frustrating for those locations where high speed wireless Internet isn’t available yet – but progress IS being made, there’s more coverage than when I took office four years ago, but still a lot more to do, and I will continue working with EORN and provincial and federal departments to improve and expand our rural access to high speed Internet.
It’s not time to change course.
I believe that together we can make Port Hope even better!