Bell and Cogeco Nab Over $71 Million to Expand Rural Internet

bell cogeco logos

The federal government and Ontario have pledged their commitment to improve high-speed Internet connectivity in rural communities across Ontario, in an announcement made on Thursday.

The two governments have announced a combined federal and provincial funding of over $71 million awarded to Bell Canada and Cogeco. This huge investment aims to provide high-speed Internet access to more than 22,000 homes in 74 rural communities throughout eastern Ontario.

Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development, Honourable Kinga Surma, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, and Goldie Ghamari, Member of Provincial Parliament for Carleton, announced the funding today at the Ottawa Public Library in Osgoode.

The investment is part of a larger Canada-Ontario broadband partnership formed on July 29, 2021, which aims to bolster large-scale, fibre-based projects across the province.

The current partnership follows a historic agreement powered by a joint federal-provincial investment surpassing $1.2 billion. The goal of these concerted efforts is to ensure high-speed Internet access to over 280,000 homes across Ontario.

“We are proud to partner with the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario to expand our all-fibre broadband network to even more communities across eastern Ontario. Our fast and reliable Internet connections help people in rural and remote communities stay connected while at home and at work,” said Bruce Furlong, SVP Network, Bell Canada, in a statement.

Matt Wickham, Vice President and General Manager, Customer Experience and B2B at Cogeco, also applauded the partnership, stressing its crucial role in reducing the digital divide and ensuring Ontarians have access to high-speed Internet.

As part of their connectivity strategy, the Canadian government plans to provide all Canadians with access to Internet speeds of at least 50 Mbps download/10 Mbps upload. Today, 93.5% of Canadian households have access to high-speed Internet, a significant leap from 79% in 2014.

Ontario has the largest single investment in high-speed Internet in any province, by any government in Canadian history, with nearly $4 billion allocated to bring access to reliable high-speed Internet to every community by the end of 2025.

As of June 2023, Ontario has finalized agreements totalling more than $2.3 billion for nearly 200 high-speed Internet and cellular projects across the province. To facilitate project construction, Ontario passed the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act in 2021, and the Getting Ontario Connected Act in 2022, aimed at reducing barriers, duplication, and delays.

This latest move is part of Canada’s broader initiative to guarantee that 98% of Canadians have access to high-speed Internet by 2026, and 100% by 2030. Similarly, Ontario aims to bring reliable high-speed Internet access to every community in the province by the end of 2025.

Yesterday, Bell announced it is cutting 1,300 jobs and also axing numerous radio stations, with possibly more cuts to come.

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