For the past several months, the research and information about Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) has been shared in person, on our website and through social media. The stories have been rolling in about the challenges that many Southwestern Ontario residents have and why digital literacy and accessibility is crucial to the growth of current residents and their children.
But the terminology and vast array of documents can be overwhelming, so here are some fast facts to explain why SWIFT is so important for regional development and rural innovation and why our goal is to offer 1 Gbps symmetrical connectivity for less than $100 per month to every resident in the SWIFT catchment area.
1) The future of being connected: The ‘Internet of Everything’
People and businesses in rural communities often require ultra-high speed connectivity to access their supply chains, commodity markets, marketing boards and other sales, purchasing, banking and employment opportunities. Now, and for future sustainability and growth, all of rural Ontario needs and expects access online services for healthcare, education, and government. Soon, every person, place, and thing will have an IP address and require connectivity to communicate.
2) Accurate information through ‘big data’ and jobs in rural communities
Farmers and rural business owners make decisions strategically and often in pressing circumstances based on weather, commodity prices, and other ever-changing conditions. More and more, the information is in data repositories stored and shared on remote servers (in the cloud). Many rural residents connect to their clients and colleagues online and e-commerce is steadily increasing. IP addressed embedded devices that track everything from soil temperature and moisture content to livestock location and condition are proliferating on the farm. When it comes to accessing and managing ‘big data’ in real time, scalable, highly available connections to the farm are required. Fibre-optic connectivity is the answer because it delivers the capacity and reliability necessary to support these critical needs to ensure economic competitiveness.
3) Potential business for smaller Internet service providers
Southwestern Ontario is unique for its small, independent and local Internet Service Providers and Applications Services Providers. They are valued companies because they offer excellent service to loyal consumers and employ Southwestern Ontario residents. While these providers represent less than 20% of the population and coverage area of SWIFT, they have the potential to be an important part of the proposed open access network. These companies may connect their existing cable/copper/wireless as part of this project.
4) More competition means better pricing and better service
In much of Southwestern Ontario, there is little or no competition between Internet Service Providers, which is why our rural organizations and consumers pay relatively high Internet prices, receive poorer services and have no choice about it.SWIFT enables affordable access to hundreds of new Points of Presence (POP), throughout the region available in communities with population densities as low as 4 persons per square kilometre. With low contractual and technical barriers to entry and service provider options, SWIFT represents a game changer by increasing competition between providers, giving consumers more choices, with will lead to better services at lower prices.
5) The ‘last mile’ of connectivity
Today, in the ‘last mile’ of connectivity between the providers’ network and your home or business, user needs are unmet and productivity gains are lost. Property values may be adversely affected. The last mile in some areas of Southwestern Ontario often has to rely on one telephone copper service provider or coaxial cable operator or at best a fixed wireless operator offering slower upload/download speeds and unreliable service due to such obstacles as tree cover, topography and weather. SWIFT will result in 310 Point of Presence (POP) locations ready for last mile connections. Any provider or user with existing or new last mile infrastructure may connect to these POPs, including local providers. The revenue generated and paid to the SWIFT network will be reinvested with providers in infrastructure, principally for the last mile, as an ongoing subsidy to build out fibre to every nook and cranny of the region and to reduce rates. The goal is to connect virtually every resident, farm, business, and public sector organization in Southwestern Ontario by 2040 at the lowest rates in Canada.