Broadband Frequently Asked Questions
What is Rural Connections Broadband Program?
The Government of Ontario is committed to working with municipalities to build strong, sustainable rural communities. As part of that plan, Ontario needs a modern, efficient and reliable telecommunications system to enable citizens and businesses to use broadband for economic and social development.
In March 2008, the Government of Ontario announced a $30 million, four-year initiative designed to reduce broadband infrastructure gaps in underserved rural regions in southern Ontario. Rural Connections will have a positive impact on families in rural Ontario by leveraging broadband infrastructure investment from private-sector businesses and public partners to enhance economic development and improve access to public services such as e-learning, e-health and e-government.
What is Broadband?
Broadband, also referred to as "high-speed" internet is defined as a high-capacity, two-way link between an individual user and the Internet that has a minimum download speed of up to 1.5 Mbps. This minimum download speed is required to support today's technology and applications such as downloading music, video chatting, playing online games. The technology providing the broadband services can be either wired (e.g. cable or DSL) or wireless (e.g. point-to-point wireless or satellite).
Who is Involved?
Rural Connections is led and administered by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in partnership with the Ministries of Government Services (MGS) and Small Business and Consumer Services (MSBCS). The County of Bruce is the lead municipality working on the project with support from each of the 8 member municipalities. In order to prepare for the proposal, the County worked with the area Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to determine the gaps in service.
When will the project be completed?
The project is currently awaiting approval from OMAFRA. Once approval is given, we will begin the Request for Proposal process, analyzing and selection process and then award the project to an Internet Service Provider. Our hope is to have construction started early summer 2009 and completed by year end December 2009. During this time the ISP will be carrying out construction and network build to expand broadband service and the County of Bruce will be working with local organizations to build awareness of the importance of embracing the technology, engaging businesses as well as the general public.
What area is the project covering?
After discussions with the area ISPs and the residents and business owners of Bruce County, projects areas have been identified as being unserviced or under-serviced. Please click here to see a map outlining the regions where broadband internet connectivity will be improved
Will the project provide high-speed internet coverage to all residents within the targeted areas?
The improved network will substantially reduce the underserved and un-served areas of the County but it will not cover the entire gap. Once construction of the new network is completed, it is anticipated that the vast majority of dwellings within the current broadband gap will be within the new network. The topography of some areas of Bruce County makes broadband access very difficult. Those areas will have to rely on satellite technology if they want more than dial-up service.
What are the various ways to bring broadband connectivity to the homes and businesses in Bruce County?
- Digital Subscriber Line (or DSL) - is a family of technologies that provides digital data transmission over the wires of a local telephone network. DSL can be used at the same time and on the same telephone line with regular telephone, as it uses high frequency, while regular telephone uses low frequency. Typically, the download speed of consumer DSL services ranges from 256 kilobits per second (kbps) to 24,000 kbps, depending on DSL technology, line conditions and service level implemented. Typically, upload speed is lower than download speed for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and equal to download speed for the rarer Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL). To be eligible for DSL, the customer must be within 18,000 feet (5,486.4 meters) of the phone center, though some telecommunications companies do accommodate greater distances.
- Cable - is a form of broadband Internet access that uses the cable television infrastructure. Like digital subscriber lines and fiber optic networks, cable Internet bridges the last mile from the Internet provider to the subscriber. It is layered on top of the existing cable television network infrastructure; just as DSL uses the existing telephone network. Cable networks and telephone networks are the two predominant forms of residential Internet access. Downstream, which goes toward the user, bit rates can be as much 400 megabits per second for business connections, and one hundred megabits for consumers depending on the country. Upstream, which goes from the user, rates range from 384Kbit/s to more than 20Mbit/s.
- Point-to-Point Wireless - Fixed wireless broadband utilizes transmission towers (sometimes called ground stations) that communicate with each other and with the subscriber's location (sometimes called customer premises). These ground stations are maintained by Internet providers, similar to cell phone towers. Customers install transceiver equipment on their building to communicate with the fixed wireless ground stations. Transceivers consist of a small dish- or rectangular-shaped antenna and attached radio transmitters. Unlike satellite Internet systems that communicate into outer space, fixed wireless dishes and radios communicate only with ground stations
- Satellite - is Internet connectivity linked to a satellite in a stationary orbit over the earth to relay data from the satellite company to each customer. Unfortunately, not everyone can get DSL or cable service, particularly in rural areas. For those left out, satellite broadband can be the answer. The Internet feed is beamed from satellite to a dish installed at the subscriber's home. Satellite broadband can deliver speeds of 2 megabits per second (mbps) downstream, and 1 mbps upstream. Under OMAFRA guidelines, this format is not an eligible method for delivery of broadband to our un-served or underserviced "gaps".
How much is monthly service?
The monthly service charges will be determined by the Internet Service Providers. However, the purpose of this project is to bring broadband connectivity to rural Bruce County at monthly costs comparable to the urban areas of Ontario.
How will this project impact the local Internet service providers?
The objective of Broadband Bruce County and Rural Connection Broadband Program is to provide high-speed access to rural areas that are currently un-serviced or underserved, not to increase competition in existing broadband service areas. The network that will be deployed will be designed to expand coverage to specific "gap areas" identified by the County. In accordance with the open access requirements of the Rural Connections Program, the successful Internet Service Provider (ISP) will allow other ISP's to have access to the network under appropriate terms and conditions.
Why is Broadband Internet access so important? Why are our tax dollars being used to subsidize this program?
Today, all levels of government increasingly consider high-speed internet access to be a virtual necessity - as important to a community's economic and social well-being as roads or electricity. In the absence of high-speed internet access, economic development within the County and the provision of services to residents is seriously impaired. As the private and public sector increasingly move to more self-service, lower-cost solutions and utilize quick response communications which provide easier and more transparent access to information, both the internet and technology has become the cornerstone for such initiatives.
Who would I contact for more Information?
If you are a resident living within the project areas, please call Bell at 1-866-242-0008 to see what new high speed Internet services are available to you.
Examples of such development within the past few years include:
- E-Government - access to government services from Web portals on the Internet. It is increasingly difficult for businesses to bid on government contracts without access to high-speed Internet.
- E-Health - provision of health care using technology-enabled means.
- E-Agriculture - use of the Internet for research, collaboration, education, marketing, business development and crop and livestock management.
- E-Business - companies are providing for services online - from advertising to product fulfillment. Consumers can also obtain information and then purchase goods and services via e-commerce enabled methods.
- E-Learning - delivery of training and course materials online.
- Communications - the majority of communications to both organizations (businesses, non-profits and governments) and individual users is now being provided over the Internet - for example via email and through web sites. Offices are now connected together through virtual private networks or wide area networks enabling employees to telecommute. Virtual meetings, Internet-based telephone service and file and information sharing through the use of Web portals is now commonplace.
- Social Networking - interacting with others and sharing information through Web portals, video sharing and sending pictures electronically to family and friends. Internet-based dating and social interaction websites such as Facebook or MySpace are becoming increasingly popular
- Entertainment - the Internet can be used to purchase and download music, radio broadcasts, TV shows, movies, etc. on a permanent or temporary basis. People can also play online games with users.