THUNDER BAY – Over the past several years, announcements of expanded Internet coverage have been made repeatedly by both our provincial MPPs Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle as well as by the federal government.
Today, Minister Gravelle, federal Indian and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan, Greg Rickford the MP for Kenora and Peter Dilworth, the Vice President of Bell Aliant are in Thunder Bay announcing new new provincial and federal investments in a major telecommunications infrastructure initiative in Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory.
Bell Aliant is one of North America’s largest regional communications providers and the first company in Canada to cover an entire city with fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology with its FibreOP™ services. Through its operating entities it serves customers in six Canadian provinces with innovative information, communication and technology services including voice, data, Internet, video and value-added business solutions.
This new infrastructure will help create network service jobs, improve access to high-speed Internet for all users, open new economic opportunities and enhance quality of life for the region’s First Nations.
“This investment in connectivity infrastructure will mean that the Nishnawbe Aski Nation will now have access to the Internet, enhancing opportunities for education, business, and monitoring of community infrastructure,” said John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. “Through programs such as the First Nations Infrastructure Fund, the government is engaging First Nations in meaningful partnerships, fostering sustainable First Nation communities and supporting stronger, safer and healthier communities.”
The Northwestern Ontario Broadband Expansion Initiative consists of five projects to be completed over four years and will span more than 2,300 kilometres when complete. Internet and other broadband services that are currently delivered to these 26 remote communities rely on dated satellite and microwave technology.
As communications provider, Bell Aliant will work in partnership with NAN to build the network which will enable speeds up to 50 times faster than current systems. The company’s share of the project will be $26 million over four years to build and operate a new fibre optic cable that has the capacity to deliver a minimum of 1.5 megabits per second to each and every household in the communities.
“Expanding broadband capacity is part of the McGuinty government’s Open Ontario plan to improve infrastructure, create jobs and encourage economic growth for further development,” said Minister Gravelle. “This fibre optic network will help provide NAN communities with improved access to distance education, health care, government and other business services.”
“This is a collaborative approach to building a backbone network that will provide these NAN communities with enhanced and more reliable broadband services,” said Peter Dilworth, vice president of finance and chief procurement officer at Bell Aliant. “A fibre optic solution is a better, longer-term solution for the region that will replace the older satellite and microwave systems — especially given the harsh weather conditions in the area. With this initiative we are investing in technology for both today and tomorrow.”
“This installation will offer NAN communities access to a wide-variety of essential services such as tele-health and tele-education, and provide them with access to all of the economic opportunities of the World Wide Web,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy. “The project will also provide immediate and future opportunities for our First Nations. It will allow for our communities to have full participation in telecommunications in the twenty-first century.”
The new network will cover a geographic area of roughly 490,000 square kilometres, equivalent to the surface area of Canada’s five smallest provinces and builds on a previous initiative that brought fibre optic technology to Red Lake in 2008.