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Ontario investing in broadband infrastructure to connect areas like Leeds and Grenville

A new broadband program is aimed to connect areas across the province like Leeds and Grenville.

Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark says Ontario is investing $150 million to address much needed broadband infrastructure across unserved and underserved regions.

Clark says the investment looks to connect more residents and businesses in rural areas of the province like Leeds and Grenville to reliable broadband and cellular service. It is called The Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program and has the potential to leverage up to $500 million in total partner funding, according to Clark.

“I have been working to address the concerns I have heard from many area residents and businesses about the challenges they face staying connected to the world because of poor internet and cellular service. These issues have become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud our government is announcing this significant investment to bring the people of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes one step closer to more reliable connectivity.”

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According to a media release, when the ICON program opens the initial application intake later this month, applicants, including telecom companies, municipal governments, Indigenous communities and non-profits, can submit innovative proposals to lend their investment, expertise and experience to improve connectivity in communities across Ontario. The province will fund a portion of each approved project.

Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott says this program is an important step toward bridging the digital divide.

“Now more than ever before, our government recognizes that the people of Ontario need to be connected to learn, work and run their businesses.”

The release also says the ICON program is part of “Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan.” Up to Speed includes $315-million to improve and expand cellular service and broadband in rural and remote communities across the province.

Initiatives to improve access to broadband and cellular service across eastern, western and northern Ontario are expected to generate more than $1 billion in investments over five years.

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