The federal and provincial governments have both acknowledged the need for high speed broadband for residents and businesses. Earlier this year, Infrastructure Ontario announced they would be proceeding with Ontario Connects, a plan to connect all homes in Ontario by the end of 2025.

With this announcement, the proposed EORN Gig Project will not be proceeding at this time. EORN appreciates the federal and provincial government commitment to expanding broadband in the eastern Ontario region. EORN will monitor the progress of this program and will continue to be a strong advocate for broadband investment in our region, ensuring that no one is left behind. 

For more information about the Ontario Connects program, please contact the Ministry of Infrastructure or your local Member of Parliament.

 

The EORN Gig Project Overview

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the crisis in rural internet access and capacity. It has impacted businesses, student learning, healthcare and government services.

EORN proposed a project to deliver ultra-fast internet speeds to homes and businesses in the region. This would have been a game-changer for eastern Ontario to attract and retain businesses and residents, and to compete globally over the long term. 

“Gig” refers to an internet speed of 1,000 Mbps or 1 Gbps (gigabit per second). It provides seamless, reliable connectivity needed for business, healthcare, education and other services. Gig speed is also needed for smart technologies that depend on reliable, continuous high-speed connectivity for real-time data sharing.

Delivering Gig service generally involves a fibre optic or cable connection to the home or business. Fixing the issue now with a comprehensive Gig solution will ensure that rural communities have the connectivity needed to recover from the pandemic and compete globally over the long term.

 

50/10 or 1-Gig

The Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declared 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload internet speeds as a minimum basic service. It set a goal of ensuring 90 per cent of all Canadians have this access by December 2021. Currently about 63 per cent of homes and businesses in eastern Ontario have access to 50/10 Mbps level of service. This includes rural and single-tier municipalities, but not Ottawa.

EORN estimated that delivering 50/10 Mbps service to 95 per cent of homes and businesses in the region would cost $500 million to $700 million. Providing a long-term solution with services of 1 Gbps would cost about $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion. The project would have been financed through a public-private partnership.

Next Steps

EORN has done the detailed engineering and research to undertake the Gig Project and was ready to move quickly. If funding had been approved, EORN would have been prepared to get a proposal process in place.

EORN helped build a fibre optic backbone and other infrastructure across the region with capacity to handle growing demand for speed and capacity. There was also the potential to leverage infrastructure that will be built for EORN’s Cell Gap Project that is already underway.

EORN’s public-private model is proven. The first phase of the project, completed in 2014, improved access to speeds of up to 10 Mbps to 90 per cent of homes and businesses. As a result of the project, 423,000 homes and businesses are now able to access this level of service. It also spurred more than $100 million in additional telecom investment in the region, over and above their initial commitments.

 The information above can be found in this printable background document.

Economic Analysis of the Proposed EORN Gig Project

The EORN Gig Project would have significant economic benefit for eastern Ontario. EORN contracted Dr. Tom Phillips and Dr. Reza Rajabiun to complete independent economic studies of this impact. Copies of these reports are found below.

 

Economic Study by Dr. Tom Phillips

EORN Economic Impacts of the Gig Project Full Report

EORN Economic Impacts of the Gig Project Summary

EORN Increasing Returns, Productivity, Externalities, and Monitoring Full Report

EORN Increasing Returns, Productivity, Externalities, and Monitoring Summary

EORN Tax Recovery Model Full Report

EORN Tax Recovery Model Summary

Economic Study by Dr. Reza Rajabiun

Economic Benefits of Investing in Basic vs. Gigabit Broadband Infrastructure in Rural Eastern Ontario Full Report

Economic Benefits of Investing in Basic vs. Gigabit Broadband Infrastructure in Rural Eastern Ontario Summary