High-speed in­ter­net rul­ing lauded by farm­ers, politi­cians

The Glengarry News - - Sports In The Glens -

Ac­cess to re­li­able high speed in­ter­net is nec­es­sary no mat­ter where you live.

Recog­ni­tion of that fact by the Canadian Ra­dio-tele­vi­sion and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (CRTC) has been ap­plauded by politi­cians and the On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture, which has been ad­vo­cat­ing for this ba­sic ne­ces­sity for ru­ral On­tar­i­ans.

The fund­ing an­nounce­ment of up to $750 mil­lion over five years in ad­di­tion to ex­ist­ing gov­ern­ment pro­grams to ex­tend ser­vices to ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas will go a long way to bring ru­ral res­i­dents, farms and busi­nesses the ba­sic telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices nec­es­sary to par­tic­i­pate in to­day’s dig­i­tal econ­omy. The CRTC also ruled that broad­band in­ter­net with down­load speeds of at least 50 megabits per sec­ond and up­load speeds of at least 10 Mbps will now be con­sid­ered a “ba­sic telecom ser­vice.”

OFA has been ad­dress­ing the need for re­li­able, high speed broad­band with gov­ern­ment for a num­ber of years. “Broad­band in­ter­net ac­cess is a fun­da­men­tal ne­ces­sity for con­duct­ing busi­ness to­day, no mat­ter where you are lo­cated,” says OFA Pres­i­dent Keith Cur­rie. “The pre­vi­ous $ 180 mil­lion of pro­vin­cial and fed­eral fund­ing for South­West­ern In­te­grated Fi­bre Tech­nol­ogy (SWIFT) was a start and this CRTC rul­ing will se­cure the ex­ten­sion of high speed in­ter­net across ru­ral On­tario.”

The CRTC re­ports 82 per cent of Cana­di­ans al­ready have ac­cess to high down­load and up­load speeds, but aren’t com­mon in ru­ral and north­ern ar­eas. Ac­cess to this es­sen­tial busi­ness ser­vice will en­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in ru­ral On­tario. A stronger ru­ral econ­omy will also serve to al­le­vi­ate hous­ing and in­fra­struc­ture chal­lenges fac­ing ur­ban On­tario cen­tres by at­tract­ing young fam­i­lies to com­mu­ni­ties out­side of ma­jor ur­ban On­tario cities.

“The CRTC’s rul­ing to de­liver this vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture ser­vice will grow our farms, com­mu­ni­ties, and pro­vin­cial econ­omy while provid- ing equal ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to our next gen­er­a­tion,” says Mr. Cur­rie. “OFA looks for­ward to work­ing with gov­ern­ment in 2017 to de­liver the high speed ac­cess to ru­ral On­tar­i­ans and for­mal­ize this in­vest­ment as an in­fra­struc­ture es­sen­tial.”

The East­ern On­tario War­dens’ Cau­cus has also lauded the CRTC’s rul­ing that mobile broad­band and high speed In­ter­net are es­sen­tial ser­vices.

The EOWC will con­tinue to work with the East­ern On­tario Re­gional Net­work on the im­prove­ment of cel­lu­lar net­works in or­der to en­sure mobile broad­band ser­vices.

“It is what we had hoped they would do,” Dave Bur­ton, Chair of the East­ern On­tario Re­gional Net­work, said of the CRTC’s de­ci­sion. “To­gether both of our or­ga­ni­za­tions have been work­ing hard over these past eight years to close the gaps in in­ter­net ser­vices across the whole of our re­gion,” he added.

“When we made our sub­mis­sions to the Com­mis­sion last April EORN urged them help en­sure that ru­ral peo­ple and ru­ral busi­nesses get the same type of ac­cess to high speed in­ter­net ser­vices that our ur­ban neigh­bours en­joy,” stated Mr. Bur­ton. “We asked that the com­mis­sion also de­velop an on­go­ing fund to help or­ga­ni­za­tions like ours to con­tinue to work with the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try and that is ex­actly what they have done.” said Bur­ton.

EORN es­ti­mates that about one-sixth of ar­eas in ru­ral East­ern On­tario has a cel­lu­lar dead zone. This lack of ac­cess to mobile call­ing and data is a risk to the re­gion’s eco­nomic vi­tal­ity, qual­ity of life and pub­lic safety, the or­ga­ni­za­tion said.

EORN, which helped ex­pand high-speed in­ter­net ac­cess in the re­gion, is now seek­ing fed­eral and pro­vin­cial sup­port for a pub­lic-pri­vate ini­tia­tive val­ued at about $200 mil­lion. The project would cover some 99 per cent of the re­gion, pro­vid­ing mobile ac­cess to 72,000 more homes and busi­nesses as well as those who travel its high­ways.

“We need to build new tow­ers, im­prove ex­ist­ing ones as well as add cov­er­age and ca­pac­ity and we are con­fi­dent given our ex­pe­ri­ence on the first EORN project that we can cre­ate an­other suc­cess part­ner­ship with pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies in our re­gion,” ob­served Mr. Bur­ton.

Pri­or­i­ties

Other pri­or­i­ties for the EOWC are in­creased pub­lic safety and lob­by­ing the prov­ince for the $3.7 bil­lion in new mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture.

At its an­nual in­au­gu­ral meet­ing in Kingston re­cently, the war­dens elected Mayor Robert Quaiff of Prince Ed­ward County as the EOWC 2017 Chair.

La­nark County War­den Bill Dob­son, also Reeve of the Town­ship of Mon­tague, was elected by the mem­ber­ship as the 2017 EOWC ViceChair.

The EOWC will con­tinue to push for the ex­pan­sion of nat­u­ral gas to ru­ral busi­nesses, farms and com­mu­ni­ties as per its part­ner­ship with the On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture, ad­di­tional distri­bu­tion ca­pac­ity for hy­dro­elec­tric­ity and a so­lu­tion to in­creas­ing hy­dro costs and the con­tin­ued im­ple­men­ta­tion of the re­gion’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy, through the East­ern On­tario Lead­er­ship Coun­cil.

The cau­cus will con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for a so­lu­tion to polic­ing costs and a mod­ern­iza­tion of the current polic­ing sys­tem, as well as pro­vin­cial so­lu­tions to the leg­isla­tive is­sues of joint and sev­eral li­a­bil­ity and the in­ter­est ar­bi­tra­tion sys­tem. “The EOWC re­mains con­cerned about the in­creas­ing costs of cer­tain ser­vices in the re­gion, par­tic­u­larly when we think about our res­i­dents and busi­nesses and their abil­ity to pay. This in­cludes every­thing from in­fra­struc­ture to hy­dro­elec­tric­ity and cel­lu­lar net­work im­prove­ments to nat­u­ral gas ex­pan­sion, and the EOWC will con­tinue to work with its part­ners at the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ment lev­els for reg­u­la­tory changes and cost re­lief across all sec­tors – as it has done suc­cess­fully in the past,” said Mr. Quaiff.

“The EOWC will also con­tinue work­ing with its part­ners in the East­ern On­tario May­ors’ Cau­cus and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of On­tario to ad­vo­cate for leg­isla­tive so­lu­tions that will re­duce op­er­a­tional costs for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. By work­ing to al­le­vi­ate the fi­nan­cial bur­den on the mu­nic­i­pal sec­tor, the EOWC aims to im­prove the con­di­tions for growth and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,” noted Prescott-Rus­sell War­den Gary Bar­ton.

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