Plans are underway to bring faster Internet service to every rural resident and business in Quinte West and Brighton.
Tuesday night, Dave Dingle, a member of the Canal-District Rural broadband advocacy group addressed Quinte West council on plans to apply for government funding to assist in installing fibre optic cable and increasing Internet connectivity. He made a similar presentation to Brighton council two weeks ago where the municipality showed its support in principal.
“We are intending to connect everyone with the same service, same price, same connection cost, no contract and 200 times faster,” explained Dingle.
If approved, he said it would take two to four years to have everyone hooked up and it will also go through the urban areas of Quinte West and Brighton.
Council however was hesitant to the idea.
Councillor Karen Sharpe asked if the community led group would have to compete with the already established Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) for government funds.
Dingle explained their big is an additional model to EORN’s.
“They select a telecommunication company to carry out the installations,” he offered. “Our opinion is the winner should be the community. “Small towns in Ontario and around the world have discovered it’s quite feasible to build a community-owned network.”
Councillor Allan DeWitt recognized the need for faster service but also pointed to there being ‘a lot of big players in the game.’
“I’m with Bell and have great Hi-Speed,” he said. “My neighbours around the the bend are on dial-up.”
Dingle said all the group was looking for council’s support in principal to go ahead with the application adding they are not proposing to compete or ‘go up against Bell.’
He added the group is willing to give the City a spot at the decision making table.
They hope to have their application ready by April and a business plan is in the works.
A staff report is due back on March 6 outlining the key principals needed to move forward.
Meanwhile, mayor Jim Harrison said they will be having an upcoming discussion with Parks Canada about fibre optics at a city hall meeting planned for March 22.
“We have asked that they put the necessary fibre optic in when they do the work on the Murray Canal Bridge,” mayor Harrison said.
He said the meeting will outline 2017-2018 projects including four big ones: the Trenton Dam and Lock, the Glenn Miller and Lock Dam 3, Frankford Dam and the Glenn Ross Swing Bridge.
The meeting runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.