SWIFT delivers project update after awarding 95 contracts to bring improved internet connectivity to Southwestern Ontario by 2023.
(Southwestern, ON) June 23, 2021 – SWIFT announced today that it has completed the procurement phase of its regional broadband expansion program and has awarded contracts for 95 projects in Southwestern Ontario. The program will see investments totaling $268 million in broadband infrastructure to bring high-speed internet access to 63,254 households and businesses across the region.
“Today in collaboration with the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, I’m happy to announce that the SWIFT program, which recently completed the procurement phase, continues to be a great success,” said Gary McNamara, SWIFT Board Chair. “As a result of the program’s highly successful business model and thanks to the support received by the governments of Ontario and Canada, more than 63,000 underserved homes and businesses across our region, approximately 157,500 residents, will now have access to essential high-speed internet service as a result of SWIFT’s regional broadband initiative.”
“The Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (WOWC) recognized early on that universal access to high-speed broadband connectivity is fundamental to the continued relevance and future prosperity of small urban and rural communities in Southwestern Ontario. To address broadband service gaps throughout the region, SWIFT, initiated by the combined connectivity interests of the WOWC, was formed in 2016. Today, we are pleased to see the completion of the procurement phase of the project with outstanding results. We would like to thank all our partners including the Federal, Provincial and Municipal levels of government and the internet service providers for their collaborative participation in the program. And while the SWIFT program has successfully over-achieved all its targeted goals, we acknowledge there is still more work to be done across our region to ensure that all residents living in Southwestern Ontario have equitable access to fast, reliable broadband service,” said Warden George Cornell, Chair of WOWC.
“Our government continues to deliver on its commitment to bring faster, more reliable internet access to every corner of the province,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “By finalizing these 95 contracts, we will soon connect thousands of additional families and businesses in Southwestern Ontario to the modern broadband they need and deserve.”
Through the program’s competitive procurement process, SWIFT has increased the project’s total infrastructure investment spend by 36% to deliver an additional $71 million in broadband internet improvements above and beyond the initial $197 million targeted investment goal.
The SWIFT model has been overwhelmingly well received and supported by the region’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with the program awarding contracts to 19 unique ISPs with 55% of subsidy going directly to local service providers who live and do business in Southwestern Ontario’s communities.
“We’re proud of the program’s achievements, the ongoing support we’ve received from our municipal partners and for the positive response and strong partnerships we have formed with the service providers throughout the project’s region,” said Barry Field, Executive Director, SWIFT. “With the procurement phase of the project now complete, we will be shifting our focus to network implementation in an effort to continue to work towards accelerating the rollout of services as quickly as possible so that residents can be brought online as soon as possible.”
- SWIFT to deliver more than $268 million in broadband improvements, resulting in an increase of 36% in the program’s overall total infrastructure investment budget.
- The regional project, in partnership with local ISPs, will bring high-speed internet connectivity to 63,254 locations across Southwestern Ontario, exceeding the program’s targeted 50,000 premises passed by 27%.
- Through the SWIFT program, 5,221 kilometres of fibre-optic cabling will be laid to service more than 4,100 kilometres of roadway throughout the region. Collectively the project will bring high-speed internet access to 345 communities, including four First Nations.
- Overall, SWIFT has awarded 95 contracts to support the expansion of broadband infrastructure throughout Southwestern Ontario. To-date, of those awarded projects, 37 have begun construction, with 4 projects now fully complete and offering service. Construction in the remaining project areas will continue to commence over the upcoming months with all SWIFT funded networks expected to be up and running by June 2023.
- In total, the SWIFT program will increase access to high-speed connectivity for 30% of the underserved population within its project area, an increase from the target goal of 23%. As a result, 90% of the population in Southwestern Ontario will have access to speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload (50/10), the Universal Service Objective set by the CRTC in 2016.
To learn more about SWIFT’s Southwestern Ontario broadband expansion plan, please visit www.swiftruralbroadband.ca.
Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) is a non-profit regional broadband project initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to subsidize the construction of high-speed broadband networks across Southwestern Ontario, Caledon and the Niagara Region.
The project was approved for funding up to $127.4 million under the New Building Canada Fund – Small Communities Fund (NBCF-SCF), a joint federal and provincial infrastructure funding program, and leverages additional funding from municipal partners and private sector investors to bring improve access to broadband services across the region.
Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology