fibre optic internet

Fibre optic internet service coming to Amherstburg


By Ron Giofu


Internet speeds in Amherstburg should be getting a lot faster within the next few years.

Bell Canada will be investing millions into bringing fibre optic Internet to town with construction to begin as soon as the second quarter of 2018. Calvin DeLeavey, senior manager of Bell Canada’s “Fibre to the Home” (FTTH), said they are planning to invest “north of $12 million” into bringing FTTH to every home in Amherstburg.

DeLeavey pledged it will be privately funded by Bell and not require financial investment by the town, though the town will work with Bell to expedite the process, streamline the permit system and let work begin as soon as possible.

“It’s fibre optic all the way to the home,” said DeLeavey. “It will deliver speeds that are unparalleled. Fibre is still the best technology out there today. It really is a network of the future. As we update electronically, it will continue to remain unparalleled.”

DeLeavey said it is possible to connect all homes in Amherstburg to the high speed system in an 18-24 month time frame.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was all smiles during and after the meeting when talking about the subject, saying it’s “huge” for Amherstburg. He said he now can tell potential developers their communications concerns will be a thing of the past.

DiCarlo said he knows of people wanting to build $1 million homes in town but backed off due to a lack of reliable high speed Internet. He believed it is a lot better option than the SWIFT initiative that has been discussed at the Essex County council table.

Aaron Kovacs from Bell Canada, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Bell Canada senior manager Calvin DeLeavey were all smiles after DeLeavey announced Bell Canada is bringing fibre optic internet service to Amherstburg.

“It’s a far cry from being swift as that’s 20-30 years away and not to the home,” said DiCarlo.

The mayor said they have been working on the issue for the last several months with Bell and that the town is “excited to be working with Bell.” He said there may be some hurdles in rolling it out in terms of having to do core drilling in some areas, but was confident Bell will meet their timetables. While work will start in the core area, he said it will spread out and the town will bring “fibre to the farm.”

“By 2020, the whole town will have access to high speed Internet,” said DiCarlo. “That’s huge for us.”

Noting he has been fielding several complaints from residents the last few weeks, DiCarlo admitted frustration at having to wait to tell them about the plan.

“This is essential,” he said. “This issue isn’t about just watching videos and movies. Communication is it. This is a key driver for us. Let’s bring business to Amherstburg.”

Councillor Jason Lavigne said the announcement shows the residents that their concerns have been taken seriously and addressed.

“It’s going to be a big thing for Amherstburg,” said Lavigne. “This is going to be an opportunity for everyone in Amherstburg whether you live on a concession or in the core.”

Councillor Rick Fryer also agreed it could bring business into Amherstburg, and even remarked that large companies like Amazon could find Amherstburg a “perfect” place for smaller hubs. Councillor Diane Pouget wanted to know if it would be a costly service and DeLeavey said Bell “has to be competitive in the marketplace.”

DeLeavey emphasized that the project “is on Bell’s dime, for sure.”

“It is welcome in the town and a great enhancement for the community,” stated Councillor Leo Meloche.

“It’s great news for our town,” agreed Councillor Joan Courtney.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said there have been previous attempts at such a project that didn’t come to fruition and encouraged Bell to “keep up the good work.”

DiCarlo added that the town had been looking at doing the work themselves when they started talking with Bell Canada. He said the new agreement allows for high speed Internet in a quicker time frame.

“We are very happy to be working with them,” said DiCarlo.

Mayor said town seeks quicker timetable than proposed fiber optic plan



By Ron Giofu


Connecting Windsor-Essex’s SWIFT initiative isn’t swift enough for the town of Amherstburg.

Dan Circelli, representing Connecting Windsor-Essex, said SWIFT stands for Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology and received $190 million in July 2016 to help improve high speed internet in the region. An RFP process soon gets underway with the build across the southwestern Ontario region to start in 2018. Ultimately, every home and business would be connected in about 20 years to an open access internet network where there would be competition under multiple providers.

Circelli indicated there are limited providers now, which negatively impacts prices for consumers.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo questioned the timetable, with Circelli saying that municipal projects could be funded up to 70 per cent if they build a fiber optic internet through the SWIFT initiative.

“That doesn’t stop you from saying ‘we want to get ahead quicker,’” said Circelli. “I will help you move SWIFT more swiftly.

DiCarlo said following the meeting that he recalls seeing fiber optic internet tested in the 1990’s.

“This is not new technology,” he said.

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DiCarlo added he understands the concerns of residents battling with internet problems.

“I’m just as frustrated as they are,” he said.

Amherstburg is “playing catch-up” with regards to getting such internet technology, but said they are not alone in Ontario or within Canada.

“Administration is trying to find a partner to bring Amherstburg into the 21st Century, for lack of a better term,” said DiCarlo.

The town may not be able to do it alone and may need the help of a third party, but the town is looking for a solution sooner rather than later, the mayor indicated.

“As soon as we have anything, (the residents) will be the second to know right after council,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo added “there’s fiber optic everywhere” but getting the internet and television conglomerates that own it to let the town use it has been difficult.

“We’ll be continuing to work for an Amherstburg solution as well as a provincial and national solution,” DiCarlo indicated.

Councillor Leo Meloche also voiced concern about the timeline.

“I have a big concern when you say 20 years,” he told Circelli. “With the speed of technology, 20 years is like 1,000 years. I think SWIFT’s mandate is to take 20 years and make it five years.”