Rural residents are waiting for the introduction of fiber internet

THUNDER BAY Some rural residents who have waited years for high-speed internet may receive good news in the coming months.

Recent government funding announcements have paved the way for expanding the service to more underserved areas around Thunder Bay.

Details of the timing of the various projects, and specifically which areas will be included, were not disclosed.

Tebetel and Bell have both secured funding to expand the service, but not in the same areas.

Tebetel has already accessed government funding sources to support broadband expansion in rural areas.

A company spokesperson cited the latest examples including areas around Thunder Bay as well as Marathon and Terrace Bay, and told TB Newswatch that the company expects more announcements in the near future.

In April, the federal and Ontario governments announced about $36 million for high-speed internet in rural areas of the city as well as Shuniah, Oliver Paipoonge, Neebing, O’Connor, Gillies and Conmee.

They said this would make the service available to nearly 2,600 homes and businesses.

In August, Bell announced plans to roll out its fiber network to homes and businesses in underserved areas of Ontario in conjunction with the provincial government’s accelerated high-speed Internet program.

Thunder Bay and Kenora are among the locations identified in Bell’s announcement.

A company spokesperson said Bell is still working with the county to finalize the boundaries of the expansion sites.

Project Bell will not be completed in all communities until the end of 2025.

Erika Krum, a Nipping Municipal Trust Clerk, says many residents are eager to get high-speed service.

“The county is trying to get everyone to have a minimum 50/10 [50 Mbps download speed and 10Mbps upload speed] By 2025. So I think in the next couple of years you’re going to see a lot of work on these things,” Crum said.

She speculates that Tepetel will launch the service in the northern part of the sprawling municipality where it already has customers, while Bell will implement the service in the southern part.

In 2019, . was released The federal government announced A global broadband fund said it would help telecoms companies provide high-speed internet to nearly all underserved areas of the country by 2030.

“In the absence of any government injection of money, the economy is not there to provide internet access to the truly remote areas,” MP Markus Pawlowski, MP for the Thunder Bay-Reni, stated.

Pawlowski singled out the Lakehead Rural Municipal Alliance for its efforts in providing high-speed service to Oliver Beibong, Shunya, Nipping, O’Connor, Gillies and Konmi.

In January last year, Prefecture announced funding To extend Tbaytel service to rural areas of Thunder Bay, and more than 1,700 addresses in Oliver Paipoonge.

Later in the year, Tbaytel received federal funding to bring fiber to nearly 700 addresses in the Intola and Gorevale Road areas, and to unregulated towns north of the city.