Recognizing the current environment as more people work remotely and students learn from home, this page was developed to provide an update on the state of rural broadband in Halton Hills.
The Town is aware of the challenges associated with the lack of reliable high-speed internet in certain areas of Halton Hills and is actively working on this issue by coordinating with key stakeholders.
What is broadband internet?
Broadband internet refers to internet access that is always connected and faster than traditional dial-up. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is responsible for coordinating the provision of high-speed broadband internet in Canada, has a target to bring download speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 10 Mbps to 90 percent of homes and businesses in Canada by the end of 2021.
Who is responsible for providing broadband internet?
The CRTC is responsible for coordinating the provision of high-speed broadband internet in Canada and has declared broadband internet a basic telecommunications service. However, it is Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) who are responsible for building, owning and operating broadband infrastructure and services.
What is the main challenge associated with bringing broadband internet to rural areas?
Many rural areas across Canada, including Halton Hills struggle to access high-speed broadband internet. A lot of Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) do not have existing infrastructure in rural areas to provide sufficient connectivity and the cost of providing this service makes developing an effective business case a challenge.
The gap in broadband infrastructure in rural areas is primarily due to the lack of dwelling density necessary to make a viable business case. As a result, TSPs have typically focused their infrastructure investments on more dense and larger urban markets where their return on investment is higher.
What are the Provincial and Federal governments doing to improve rural broadband?
The Federal and Provincial governments have established a number of critically important support programs, such as Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) and the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), to help TSPs make business cases for expanding their broadband infrastructure and services to rural areas. A number of applications have been submitted for funding through government broadband programs for local projects. The Town and Halton Region have provided joint letters of support for these applications.
What is the Town of Halton Hills and Halton Region doing to improve rural broadband?
The Town’s approach to advancing rural broadband in Halton Hills has been to collaborate with the local Halton municipalities on ICON and UBF funding applications with Halton Region taking the lead. This has entailed close coordination with Regional staff to advance region-wide applications for rural broadband funding.
Halton Region continues to advocate to the Provincial and Federal governments for improved broadband access in rural Halton. The Region is also leading a targeted advocacy strategy, focusing on accelerating the speed with which TSPs connect and improve broadband service to residences, farms and businesses in rural Halton.
The Town has also connected with Halton Hills’ local TSPs to encourage them to apply to relevant government funding programs. Moving forward, Town staff will continue to coordinate with Halton Region to advance rural broadband initiatives. Key actions for the Town include:
- Assigning a Town staff lead to monitor and champion broadband at the local level;
- Encouraging local TSPs to apply for rural broadband projects in Halton Hills;
- Providing letters of support and ongoing support, as needed, for broadband funding applications from TSPs;
- Launching a new webpage for broadband updates and resources on the Town’s website and InvestHaltonHills.com;
- Keeping aware of municipal best practices in broadband and their potential applicability to Halton Hills/Halton Region;
- Coordinating with the Region to encourage and advance funding applications from TSPs;
- Coordinating with Halton Region to prepare Community Expressions of Interest required by broadband funding programs;
- Supporting Halton Region in taking action to fill broadband service gaps; and
- Providing Council with status updates.
What options are available for improved internet service in rural areas in the meantime?
Wifi to Go - Offered by the Halton Hills Public Library
This program allows any Halton Hills Public Library card holder who is 18 or older to borrow an internet hotspot. The portable internet hotspot devices provide free, unlimited data over a 3G or 4G/LTE network. They have the ability to connect up to 15 devices with a battery life of up to 8 hours. There are currently 28 internet hotspot devices available to borrow from the library for a two-week loan period.
To learn more about how to borrow an internet hotspot from the Halton Hills Public Library, please visit the WiFi to Go page.
Purchase an internet hotspot device
Several patrons of the Library’s WiFi to Go program have been so pleased with the stability of using the hotspot in lieu of their home internet service that they have purchased their own internet hotspot devices.
I am a Telecom Service Provider, who do I contact with an inquiry about available supports in Halton Hills?
Senior Economic Development Officer
Mobile: (905) 691-3477
Office: (905) 873-2600 ext. 2353