County issues letters of support for internet projects

By Chad Ingram

The County of Haliburton is issuing two letters of support for proposed projects that could heighten internet connectivity in the county.

As previously reported, the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure is offering $150 million in grants for broadband projects, and during a July meeting, councillors agreed they would sole-source the services of a consultant with the ability to conduct a technical evaluation of proposal from internet providers.

The funding application is due on Aug. 21 and the county has retained the services of Johnathan Black from Kuro Partners to evaluate proposals.  

During a special meeting on Aug. 18, councillors heard about two proposed projects – one from Bell, and one from Xplornet – and issued letters of support for both funding applications.  

“Bell and Xplornet have relatively shovel-ready projects,” county chief administrative officer Mike Rutter told council before providing an overview of each.

The Bell $20-million project would equip about 4,000 premises in the county with speeds up to 50 Mbps for downloading and 10 Mbps for uploading through a combination of fibre-to-home and fixed wireless technology.

The project Xplornet was requesting a letter of support for was larger in scope, one worth $200 to $220 million which would install some 2,650 kilometres of new fibre throughout central and northern Ontario, and according to the proposal would offer 100 Mbps service to 170,000 “under-serviced households.”

As to what “under-serviced” means exactly, “We did ask that question and really haven’t been able to get a clear answer on that,” Rutter said.

Councillors approved both letters of support in a resolution that read the county would also continue to work with any internet providers interested in creating projects to enhance connectivity in the area.
These projects would be separate from the cell gap project being completed by the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, and the gig project for which EORN has recently requested funding.