Halton and its local municipalities are joining together to support proposals that have been made by telecommunications providers to enhance rural internet and cellular coverage across the region.

Three proposals that would benefit underserved areas throughout Halton were recently submitted for potential funding through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program.

The province has allocated $150 million for the program — an amount that could grow to $500 million when combined with additional partner funding.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown first-hand how important it is to have internet and cellular coverage,” said Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette. “Halton Hills supports these proposals to ICON, which would help address current service gaps in our rural areas and ensure our residents can stay informed, safe and healthy.”

For the first intake of the ICON program, which closed August 21, the region delivered a Halton rural broadband webinar and met with telecommunications providers to promote the ICON program and encourage applications.

Halton has also worked with the University of Guelph’s regional and rural broadband project on a study of broadband, which identified significant service gaps in rural Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills.

“We are living in a digital age and access to broadband is more important than ever for small businesses, families and students, especially during the pandemic,” said Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward. “Half of Burlington is rural. We proudly support these proposals to ensure everyone in our community has access to broadband coverage no matter where they live, work, play or study.”

For more information, visit the “Advocating for a Strong Halton” page at halton.ca.

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