High-speed internet is coming to more than 1,850 houses and businesses in rural Huron County as part of a $15-million broadband expansion.
The network will be brought to 335 kilometres of under-served roads by Southwestern Ontario Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT), a non-profit initiative launched in 2014 by the Western Ontario Wardens Caucus to subsidize the expansion of open-access, high-speed internet in the region's rural and under-served areas.
“The pandemic has only further highlighted the importance of reliable internet,” Huron County Warden Glen McNeil said in a statement. “Access to broadband is essential for people to be able to connect, learn and do business.”
For the Huron County project, the federal and provincial governments are each contributing $2.4 million, Huron County is adding $2.8 million, and the remainder is covered by 10 internet service providers awarded contracts.
The project spans 1,854 homes and businesses and covers parts of the Lake Huron shore between Bayfield and Goderich, along with areas in the municipalities of Central Huron, South Huron, Huron East, Morris-Turnberry, North Huron and Howick.
Service is expected to begin in some areas as early as February.
SWIFT aims to bring high-speed internet to 50,000 households in Southwestern Ontario by 2024 as part of a $209-million initiative.
"The construction of broadband infrastructure in Huron County will help businesses to expand, help create new job opportunities and connect more people to the services and information they need," Ernie Hardeman, the provincial minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said in a statement.
The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press