Region joins SWIFT project to bring faster internet to residents

The Region of Waterloo has joined other municipalities in the SWIFT project, which is building a fibre optic network in much of southern Ontario that will provide faster and cheaper internet to residents.

Project will build fibre optic network to bring faster and cheaper internet to residents

The Region of Waterloo is joining the SWIFT project - Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology - which will bring faster and cheaper internet to local residents. (CBC)

The Region of Waterloo is joining a project that will bring faster and more affordable internet to residents throughout southwestern Ontario.

The region is one of 17 municipalities that have joined the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology, or SWIFT, network project.

Regional councillor and finance committee chairman Sean Strickland said it makes sense for the region to join in this project.

"Many of our residents live in rural townships and those townships have what could be easily described as inadequate internet and broadband services," he told CBC K-W's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Friday.

He added there are even pockets in the more urban areas – including where he lives in northwest Waterloo – where Internet is spotty.

First phase could be done by 2022

The Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) network project will build a ultra-high-speed fibre optic regional broadband network in southern Ontario. (
Most of southwestern Ontario is not served by fibre optics. The SWIFT project will cover southwestern Ontario, Caledon and the Niagara Region, as well as up to Grey and Bruce counties.

It is still in the early stages and the request for qualifications will be released May 12. Companies that respond will be shortlisted in July and the design of the network will be released in October. Construction could begin as early as 2018, the SWIFT website states, with the first phase of the network being completed by 2022.

But the project isn't just about building the network – it's also to make it affordable for everyone. Residents will be able to get internet speeds up to one gigabit per second access for under $100 a month.

'You really need to have internet'

The SWIFT project received $180 million – $90 million each from the federal and provincial governments – in July 2016.

The region will chip in $2.2 million for the project. Telecom companies are also on board, Strickland noted, but they're not footing the entire bill because expanding the fibre optic network isn't financially viable for them.

But it is incredibly important to the residents who don't have reliable internet, he said.

"In today's modern society, you really need to have internet to compete, you really need to have internet to be integrated into the world's economy, and that's they the region's supporting this project," he said.


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