Ontario investing $150 million to improve broadband and cellular service in rural communities

Eligible groups, including telecom providers, First Nations communities and non-profits, are invited to apply to the new 'ICON' program

The Government of Ontario has pledged $150 million to go towards improving broadband and cellular service in the province’s rural communities.

Altogether, the new program — dubbed ‘Improving Connectivity in Ontario’ (ICON) — has the potential to result in an investment of up to $500 million in total partner funding, according to the province. Telecom companies, municipal governments, First Nation communities and non-profits are among the groups that the province is inviting to apply for funding through ICON.

The province says this funding is particularly necessary, given that 12 percent of households in Ontario — predominantly in rural areas — are underserved or unserved, as per the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

“As we carefully restart the economic engine of Canada, every region and every community will play a role in bringing jobs and prosperity back to our province,” said Premier Ford in a press statement. “By investing in reliable broadband and cellular service, we are helping to create greater opportunity for our families, farmers and small business owners in rural and remote areas of this great province.”

The funding is part of the provincial government’s $315 million ‘Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan,’ which was revealed last July. Over the course of five years, the plan aims to generate up to $1 billion CAD in total investment that will serve up to 220,000 underserved homes and businesses throughout the province.

Source: Government of Ontario