Mayor Paul Jenkins wants a gigabyte of upload and download speed in Bancroft and he is not alone.
Jenkins is one of 98 signatures on a letter to provincial and federal governments in support of the Eastern Ontario Regional Network’s (EORN) Gig Project, which wants to provide a unified response to improving broadband speeds across Eastern Ontario. Signatures include every Township in North Hastings, as well as the mayors of Quinte West, Belleville and Prince Edward County. The letter was sent to Maryam Monsef, Federal Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, Laurie Scott, the Provincial Minister of Infrastructure, as well as MP Derek Sloan and MPP Daryl Kramp.
Rick Phillips, a member of the EORN Board of Directors, believes the Gig Project is the answer to all of Eastern Ontario’s internet problems. While he knows that the province and feds have funding in place for rural, high-speed internet, Phillip’s concern is that some people will get left behind. With a 95% coverage rate, Phillips stresses that everyone will get a better internet connection under the Gig Project, not just population centers and rural areas. He’s concerned that if the federal and provincial governments adopt a piecemeal approach, places like the backroads, cottages and remote areas will be left behind.
However, the Project already has the support of many MPs and MPPs. Many one-on-one meetings with both Minister Monsef and Minister Scott have already taken place, and Phillips says they will continue to have those meetings. While the different levels of governments have different ways of approaching the issue of reliable broadband in Eastern Ontario, Phillips believes it is difficult to not listen to the growing support behind the Gig Project. Between schools going online, medical appointments needing internet, and an influx of residents into rural communities, Phillips says they need this now more than ever.