As everyone gets back to work after the holiday season, we’re reflecting on some big moments in 2016 and looking forward to great things in 2017 – and what better way than to share a round-up of some of our biggest moments last year and some fresh news from the first week of 2017:
Big moments in 2016…
Off the top, our biggest news by far was securing a $180 million investment from the federal and provincial governments. The funding announcement represented the culmination of five years of work advocating for accessible, affordable, ultra-high-speed connectivity for our region – and appeared to be the tipping point for changing the landscape for how broadband infrastructure is evaluated and funded in Ontario and across Canada. We are proud of this accomplishment – and hard at work finalizing our plan for how we will invest this funding to build #broadbandforeveryone.
— Navdeep Bains (@NavdeepSBains) July 26, 2016
In 2016, we were thrilled to welcome the Town of Caledon and Niagara Region as full members in SWIFT. After completing their own feasibility studies and engaging their local communities, both of these local governments joined SWIFT based on the strength of our model and principles, bringing us that much closer to our goal of building a holistic network for our region.
Finally, the end of 2016 saw two big announcements about the future of broadband access in Canada. First, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced the Connect to Innovate program, which will commit $500 million over five years to expand broadband in rural and remote communities across Canada. The Connect to Innovate program will provide complementary investments to help expand broadband access across the country while we work to connect the nearly 10% of the Canadian population that lives, works, and plays in the region served by SWIFT.
On the heels of this announcement, the CRTC declared high speed Internet a basic telecommunications service. For more than five years, SWIFT has maintained that regardless of where you live, you deserve high quality, high speed Internet service and we are pleased to see our national regulatory body take significant steps toward supporting the importance of connecting rural Canadians. Most importantly, the CRTC ruling noted that broadband access cannot be driven by regulators alone and underscored the importance of ensuring affordability and choice among service providers. This is exactly what SWIFT will do for our communities.
Looking ahead to 2017…
We’ve been hard at work finalizing the project design and preparing to release the first Request for Pre-Qualification later this year that will mark the official start of the bidding process that will lead to the SWIFT Network becoming a reality. Our core team is now in place and we’re actively building out the consulting services and additional resourcing that we’ll need to deliver on our promise to build broadband for everyone.
This week, you might have heard Executive Director Geoff Hogan on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. If you missed the interview, you can read a great summary of the conversation with Craig Norris online at CBC.ca.