Universal Broadband Fund-supported projects will bring high-speed Internet to 1,257 homes in Killarney, East Ferris

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

March 30, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on our connections. Now more than ever, Canadians across the country need access to reliable high-speed Internet as many of us are working, learning, and staying in touch with friends and family from home. Right now, too many Canadians living in rural and remote communities lack access to high-speed Internet. Through the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) Rapid Response Stream, the Government of Canada is taking immediate action to get Canadians connected to the high-speed Internet they need.

Today, Marc G. Serré, Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, announced over $2 million in funding for Vianet, Blue Sky Net and Bell to bring high-speed Internet to rural residents of Killarney, East Ferris, Redbridge and Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation.

The funding will connect:

  • 176 households in the Killarney region (Vianet, $576,000)
  • 239 households in East Ferris (Blue Sky Net, $881,000)
  • 360 households in Redbridge (Blue Sky Net, $386,000)
  • 482 households in Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation (Bell, $195,000)

The projects being announced today were approved within five months of the November 2020 formal launch of the $1.75-billion UBF. Projects funded under the UBF, as well as through other public and private investments, will help connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026 and achieve the national target of 100% connectivity by 2030.

Today’s announcement builds on the progress the Government of Canada has already made to improve broadband access in Ontario. Since 2015, the federal government has approved over 4,060 infrastructure projects, totalling over $2.85 billion in federal investments in Ontario communities. These investments mean that 481 km of new or upgraded roads are now making our communities safer; more than 938 projects are providing residents with cleaner, more sustainable sources of drinking water; and more than 5,427 additional housing units have been built in rural communities, helping ensure all Ontarians have a safe place to call home.

Quotes

“High-speed Internet service is essential to the success of everyone living and working in rural Ontario. Today’s investment will bring reliable, high-speed Internet access to 1,257 households in Killarney, East Ferris, Redbridge and Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, helping create jobs, improving access to health care and online learning services, and keeping people connected to their loved ones. Our government has committed nearly $242 million to 40 connectivity projects in Ontario, which will connect over 87,000 more households to better, faster Internet. We will continue to make investments like these to help connect every Canadian to the high-speed Internet they need.”

– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

“This important high-speed Internet investment of nearly $576,000 is incredibly welcome and will positively impact many residents of Northern Ontario including those in the community of Killarney. At the heart of driving economic and social prosperity is the requirement of accessible and affordable broadband options for businesses and residents. Congratulations to all successful applicants, and thank you to local Internet service providers such as Blue Sky Net, Vianet and Bell for working collaboratively to further connect the North. This is an excellent representation of how the Universal Broadband Fund is getting more shovels in the ground to get priority projects completed!”

– Marc G. Serré, Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

“This is a tremendous announcement for Blue Sky Net and the residents of East Ferris and Redbridge. Broadband Internet has been an essential tool for years and now, more than ever, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how much everyone needs reliable access to high-speed Internet. There has been a dramatic impact on quality of life over the last year and, with today’s announcement, over 230 households in East Ferris and 360 households in Redbridge will soon have access to reliable high-speed Internet so that they can work, learn and keep in touch with their loved ones from home.”

– The Honourable Anthony Rota, Member of Parliament for Nipissing-Timiskaming

“The Municipality of Killarney is very excited that Vianet is receiving funding for this project and appreciates that the federal government has prioritized improved broadband service for rural and remote communities. The enhanced broadband service that will result from this investment in infrastructure will greatly benefit our residents in their day-to-day lives and as well as businesses in their operations.”

– Nancy Wirtz, Mayor of Killarney

“On behalf of the Municipality of East Ferris, I want to thank the Government of Canada and in particular Member of Parliament Anthony Rota for this critical investment in our community. Improving access to the Internet has been a priority for East Ferris, and today’s announcement is another step forward on this critical journey. We are fortunate to work with partners such as Blue Sky Net and Spectrum Telecom Group (NetSpectrum) and so a very special thank you to all involved in moving this important project forward.”

– Pauline Rochefort, Mayor of East Ferris

“Fast, reliable and high-capacity broadband networks will be key to the COVID-19 recovery and to social and economic opportunities for all stakeholders into the future. Bell has committed to further accelerating our industry-leading capital investment plan over the next two years to bring world-class broadband connections to even more communities. We’re proud to partner with the Government of Canada by investing in connecting households in Sagamok First Nation to the fastest fibre home Internet speeds available.”

– Bruce Furlong, Senior Vice President, Access Engineering and Deployment, Bell Canada

“Vianet is very pleased with this announcement under the federal government’s Universal Broadband Fund, which will provide upgrades to our existing fixed wireless network in Killarney. With this investment, which will result in a 1 Gbps backbone feed into the community, we will be able to offer faster and more reliable broadband service that will meet the CRTC 50/10 speed target. We would like to thank Minister Monsef and the federal government for their commitment to bringing quality broadband to rural Canadians. We would also like to thank MP Marc Serré along with the Township for their support of this project. We look forward to completing this project quickly, in order to improve service to the residents of Killarney.”

– Brian McCullagh, Director of Business Development, Vianet

“For the many years that Blue Sky Net has worked to expand broadband in Northern Ontario, we have looked to the federal government for assistance. This project is no different, and with the interest and support of Spectrum Telecom Group (NetSpectrum) at a time when access to broadband has never been more needed, we are grateful once again for this federal support. The Mayor and Council of East Ferris and the citizens who have supported our efforts along the way are to be congratulated for their unwavering determination to bring high speed to their community. We have also appreciated the active support of the Local Services Board of Redbridge that continues to work on behalf of its neighbours to better Internet access in its community.”

– Susan Church, Executive Director, Blue Sky Net

Quick facts

  • Canada’s Connectivity Strategy aims to provide all Canadians with access to Internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download / 10 Mbps upload.

  • The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) is a $1.75-billion investment designed to help connect all Canadians to high-speed Internet. Applications to the UBF were accepted until March 15, 2021, and are now being evaluated.

  • The UBF is part of a suite of federal investments to improve high-speed Internet. The suite includes the Connect to Innovate program, which is expected to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023, and the recently announced $2-billion broadband initiative from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

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