All students to have high-speed internet by 2021, says education minister

Ontario Education Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris says her government is on track to bring high-speed internet to all students in Ontario by 2021.

Students at 181 Ontario schools already have access; 850 additional schools to get access in Phase 2

The Ontario Government plans to bring high-speed broadband internet to all schools by 2021. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Ontario Education Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris says her government is on track to bring high-speed internet to all students in Ontario by 2021.

"I think that's huge, I think it's amazing, and I think it's going to make a wonderful impact on our education system," said Naidoo-Harris during a funding announcement in Guelph, Ont. on Wednesday.

"Broadband is a gateway. It creates a gateway for our young people living in rural, remote and northern communities to access ... the outside world and access different pathways and different ways of learning."

In 2016 the CRTC ruled that broadband internet access is a basic telecommunications service. Up until that point, local landline telephone service was the only service deemed "basic" or essential by the CRTC.

The government first announced its plan to improve high-speed broadband internet in schools across the province in May 2017.

Phase two: 850 schools

On Wednesday, Naidoo-Harris said the first phase of the project — which cost $50 million and involved 181 schools, including schools in Guelph and Wellington County — was complete.

"It is because of the huge success here in Guelph that I am pleased to announce that we are now committing an investment of $90 million to expand broadband in [Phase 2] across the province," she said.

A government press release indicates Phase 2 will involve over 250,000 students at approximately 850 schools, but doesn't specify where those schools will be located.

Naidoo-Harris also indicated in her speech that there will be phases beyond Phase 2, but it was not clear how many phases it would take to have all schools in the province hooked up to high speed.