Regional Council continues to push forward with broadband strategy
Whitby, Ontario – Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Durham Regional Council has approved the Regional Broadband Network report, outlining two applications for funding from the Province of Ontario and Federal Government of Canada for the phased implementation of a broadband network in Durham Region.
The Region’s goal is to implement a high-speed fibre network that will span 700 kilometres and connect all of Durham’s hamlets. This phase of the project will jumpstart that vision.
Broadband access is vital infrastructure that is essential for communication, education, and the economic competitiveness of our residents, businesses and institutions. Improving access to broadband is a strategic priority for Regional Council, and increasing its availability in underserved and unserved areas is critical to the economic recovery of Durham’s residents and businesses. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the challenges faced by residents who don’t have access to adequate broadband. The Region—in partnership with Oshawa Power Utilities Corporation (OPUC)—has developed a transformative project that will serve our rural and underserved communities; leveraging the existing fibre infrastructure of the Region and OPUC to extend broadband access across Durham.
The phased implementation of the network will be dependent on funding—expected to be announced in April 2021. If funding is allocated, residents can expect this phase of the project to begin this summer and be completed by 2024.
The Region continues to advocate for the provincial and federal governments to invest in broadband; taking an active role to ensure our underserved residents and businesses have access to broadband in the future.
“All levels of government have a role to play to significantly improve broadband access in Durham. Now, more than ever, we understand the importance of being and staying connected, and hope to access the support needed to create a broadband network that serves all of Durham. It’s through continued investments that we will be able to bring our vision, of connecting our entire region with fast and reliable broadband, to life.”
- John Henry, Regional Chair and CEO, Region of Durham
“Effective broadband infrastructure is vital for Durham’s success. It’s an essential tool for citizens to participate in their community, and for businesses to reach and respond to their customers. Reliable digital connectivity is also critical to supporting economic development and attracting new investment to Durham. Our strategy is to focus on the communities with the greatest need for broadband support, such as our rural areas.”
- Brian Bridgeman, Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development, Region of Durham
“OPUC has been providing essential infrastructure and utility services in Durham for over 130 years. We’re proud to support the Region in this transformative effort for our community.”
- Ivano Labricciosa, President and CEO, Oshawa Power Utilities Corporation
- The Region’s Broadband Strategy, approved by Council in 2019, outlines several actions to support broadband deployment, particularly in rural and underserved areas. It highlights the need to pursue broadband funding programs offered by other levels of government.
- In 2020, the Region launched a survey for residents and businesses to quantify the broadband needs across our communities. Through more than 2,600 responses, the survey concluded that the median download/upload speeds across Durham are well below the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) standards.
- In 2020, the Province of Ontario announced an investment of $150 million over a four-year period through the ICON program. The funding envelope was subsequently increased to $300 million. The Federal government announced a $1.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund with an application deadline of February 2021.
- On August 21, 2020 the Region submitted a joint application to Stage 1 of the ICON funding program. By September 2020, the Region was invited to submit a Stage 2 application. A joint application to the Universal Broadband Fund will be submitted by the Region and OPUC in advance of the deadline.
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