Ontario investing $500 million to expand broadband connectivity in rural and northern communities

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Rural communities play a crucial role in our economy and since they are less populated, they often get passed over when it comes to infrastructure and utility upgrades.

A recent study out of the U.S. charted population change from 2010 to 2016 by generation and in different types of areas; U.S., Metropolitan, Small City, and Rural. Overall, the population increased in all areas except for rural.

The generation X population decreased by 2.2% in rural areas, while baby boomers in rural areas dropped 3.7%. The biggest population drop in rural areas was among millennials, decreasing 5.4% over the course of six years.

Millennials are the future of North America’s workforce - if they’re leaving rural areas, we have a problem.

The study also discovered that among millennials living in rural areas, they’re more likely to live in a county with better digital access. Clearly, reliable and affordable high-speed Internet is important to millennials.

That said, we’re happy to see the province of Ontario announcing $500 million in funding over the course of three years to expand broadband access in rural and northern communities.

“The availability of high-speed internet and mobile connectivity is critical to access important resources and services such as health care and education,” says Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Infrastructure. “These investments in broadband infrastructure will drastically improve connectivity in rural and northern communities and increase connectivity in underserved communities.”

The province also announced two new investments. The Eastern Ontario Regional Network will use up to $71 million to improve cellular coverage and capacity gaps in eastern Ontario, and the Telesat initiative is a $20 million satellite project to bring broadband to rural and remote areas.

“These investments will help families and businesses, particularly in those underserved areas, to have more affordable access to this technology,” says Jeff Leal Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Investing in broadband infrastructure will not only keep people connected, but it will also help our rural and northern communities create jobs and grow their local economies.”

Campbell Patterson