The Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Network continues to gain momentum and gather support with Middlesex County’s decision to join SWIFT as a full member. Middlesex County formally joined SWIFT at yesterday’s Council meeting with a commitment of over $784,000 in capital funding. This valuable addition means that SWIFT now represents the combined connectivity interests of all 15 members of the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus Inc. (WOWC) as well as the Town of Caledon, City of Orillia, City of Windsor and the Niagara and Waterloo Regions.
“We see our investment in SWIFT as a significant investment in Middlesex County’s Economic Development that will produce growth and opportunity that will benefit our County for decades,” said Don Shipway, Middlesex County Warden.
By joining SWIFT, Middlesex is investing in a collective broadband initiative that is working to improve ultra-high-speed fibre optic Internet access for more that 3.5 million Ontarians across approximately 350 communities. This partnership follows $180 million in combined investments by the federal and provincial governments and over $17 million in investments by municipalities across the region.
“We are pleased to celebrate the commitment of all 15 WOWC’s capital partners who are working together to address southwestern Ontario’s critical connectivity challenges,” said Gerry Marshall, Board Chair at SWIFT. “The more sites we have committed to the network, the more influence we will have with service providers and the more competitive the resulting network bids and build will be for participating members.”
The WOWC is a not-for-profit organization representing 15 upper and single tier municipalities in southwestern Ontario. This includes Brant, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Elgin, Dufferin, Essex, Grey, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth, Simcoe, Waterloo Regional Municipality and Wellington. Collectively, the municipalities represent more than 3 million residents in approximately 300 communities and almost half a million square kilometres of territory, more than 90% of it rural.
“Southwestern Ontario faces a $4 billion infrastructure deficit when it comes to fibre-optic connectivity,” said Geoff Hogan, Chief Executive Officer at SWIFT. “To prosper in today’s global economy, we need to work together, as a region, to accelerate fibre diffusion to both our rural and urban communities. By investing in the expansion of broadband infrastructure, we are removing barriers to economic development and ensuring that every member community has access to the tools they need to grow their economies from within.”
For more information about Middlesex’s investment in SWIFT, please contact Bill Rayburn, Chief Administrative Officer at Middlesex County, at [email protected].
About the SWIFT Initiative
The SWIFT Initiative is based on the principle that everyone deserves access to high-speed Internet. For this reason, SWIFT is building an affordable, open-access, ultra-high-speed fibre-optic regional broadband network for everyone in Southwestern Ontario, Caledon and Niagara Region. By developing a long-term infrastructure plan, SWIFT is helping our region compete, connect and keep pace in a changing digital world. SWIFT membership is open to any community or organization in southwestern Ontario that needs connectivity to any of its locations. Members receive benefits of our significant procurement expertise, including aggregated demand, negotiated rates, and support in preparing RFPs for broadband services. As a buying group, SWIFT will ensure greater competition between telecom service providers which will lead to better services at lower prices in all of our member communities.
In addition to leadership from the county members of the Western Ontario Warden’s Caucus and investment from the federal and provincial governments, the Town of Caledon, City of Orillia, City of Windsor and the Niagara and Waterloo Regions are also supporting the project. Non-municipal members include Chatham Kent Lambton Administrators Group (CKLAG), Connecting Windsor-Essex (CW-E), Georgian College, Grey Bruce Health Services, Saugeen First Nation, and the Stratford Economic Enterprise Development Corporation. SWIFT has also received letters of support from the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and Walpole Island First Nation.
In May 2017, SWIFT launched a two-stage Request for Pre-Qualification. Through this process, 28 service providers were pre-qualified. SWIFT is now working on finalizing the details for the final Request for Proposal which will be circulated within the coming months. For more information about the procurement process and to stay up to date on how SWIFT will build broadband for everyone in Southwestern Ontario, Caledon, and the Niagara Region, please visit www.swiftruralbroadband.ca and sign-up for the mailing list at www.swiftruralbroadband.ca/contact.
SWIFT is also currently requesting information from users across the region about their current Internet service. To complete the survey, please visit www.swiftruralbroadband.ca/survey