Toronto city council has approved a plan called ‘ConnectTO’ to expand access to affordable high-speed internet across the city.
The city-driven collaborative program will leverage municipal resources to increase digital equity. The program aims to bridge the digital divide and support vulnerable and marginalized residents.
“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 Toronto Mayor John Tory in a news release.
The network will be created using existing fibre and other city assets such as buildings, lights, sidewalks and boulevards. It will be delivered to homes and businesses through a private sector partner.
“Access will be offered to qualified service providers, at a fair price, to generate revenue, which will be reinvested back into communities to expand access to internet service and help lower costs,” the news release notes.
ConnectTO is going to be deployed in phases, with testing to begin in the areas of Jane and Finch, Golden Mile, and Malvern later this year. The second phase of the program will see the network launched city-wide in early 2022.
City council has asked the project team to develop a digital equity policy as part of the Digital Infrastructure Plan. Council has also recommended that the team should examine ways to integrate affordable internet into new housing development projects.
“We know that our most vulnerable residents and businesses are being left behind without fast, reliable and affordable internet. ConnectTO is our opportunity to bridge this gap and provide opportunities for prosperity, services and supports for all,” said Toronto’s CTO Lawrence Eta, in the news release.
Further, the ConnectTO project also aims to update existing city plans to ensure internet connectivity, such as public Wi-Fi plans.
Source: City of Toronto