Toronto City Council has approved program that will increase access to affordable high-speed internet for underserved residents.
Called ConnectTO, the city says the program will leverage municipal resources and assets to increase digital equity and expand access to affordable, high-speed internet.
“Once launched, the ConnectTO high-speed network will become a vital tool in ensuring equitable access to information, resources, educational tools, social platforms and city programs and services,” said Mayor John Tory in a release.
“I am delighted that this project is moving forward, and the City will be leveraging our existing assets for the public’s benefit.”
The program will be deployed in two phases, with an initial launch beginning in late 2021 and a city-wide expansion planned for early 2022.
The first communities to test ConnectTO will be Jane and Finch, Golden Mile, and Malvern, although other sites may be added before the end of the year.
The city notes that the broadband network will help ensure Torontonians are not left behind by the high price of reliable internet, or the gaps in its availability in some areas.
ConnectTO will be created using city resources, such as buildings and existing fibre assets, and will be delivered to homes and businesses by a private sector partner.
According to the release, access will be offered to qualified service providers at a fair price.
The revenue that is generated will be re-invested in the communities in order to expand access to internet services and lower costs.
As part of the program’s approval, city council has also recommended that the project team examine how affordable high-speed internet can be integrated into new affordable housing development projects and large-scale revitalization projects in Toronto.
“We know that our most vulnerable residents and business are being left behind without fast, reliable and affordable internet,” said Lawrence Eta, the city’s Chief Technology Officer.
“ConnectTO is our opportunity to bridge this gap and provide opportunities for prosperity, services and supports for all.”