‘I think it’s fantastic but I also think it’s long overdue,’ said Coun. Judi Partridge
Dan Taekema · CBC News · Posted: Jan 28, 2020 10:25 AM ET | Last Updated: January 28
A plan for Bell Canada to invest $400 million to expand broadband internet access across Hamilton is good news for rural residents and business owners, according to a city councillor.
“I think it’s fantastic but I also think it’s long overdue,” said Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge, who represents Flamborough and Waterdown.
The telecommunications giant recently announced it was teaming up with the city to close gaps in digital infrastructure across the area over the next five years.
It will mean upgrades for both urban and rural parts of the city and represent the largest digital infrastructure investment in the city’s history, according to a media release from the mayor’s office.
A team made up of Bell staff and Bell-funded city workers will “bring direct fibre network connections to more than 200,000 homes and business locations throughout the City with zero cost to taxpayers,” reads the release.
The new network will allow users to access data speeds up to 1.5 gigabits per second — “the fastest home internet speeds in Canada.”
Mayor Fred Eisenberger said the city is proud to be working with Bell “to enable its investment in the long-term growth and sustainability as we continue to increase our reliance on digital infrastructure – one of the foundations of our city’s health, growth and prosperity – to attract and grow local businesses and manage our busy lives, now and into the future.”
The release states most of the network will be made up of new fibre buried underground and that the expansion includes making high-speed wireless home internet service available to 8,000 homes in rural Hamilton.
“Hamilton is also quickly becoming a leader in advanced technology and innovation,” said J. Bruce Furlong, Bell’s senior vice president of access engineering and deployment, describing the plan as a “historic partnership.”
The project also shows the city is “open for business,” added Hamilton’s chief digital officer Cyrus Tehrani in the release.
“Broadband accessibility and high-speed connectivity is rapidly becoming the new essential utility and is vital to economic growth.
That need is keenly felt by rural businesses, according to Partridge.
She pointed to greenhouses in her ward as an example, explaining they’re automated and run by software which requires costly internet connection.
“There are so many business in Hamilton throughout the rural areas … and the broadband connectivity represents a huge cost,” the councillor said, describing the project as “a much-needed boost to our businesses.”