On Feb. 5, Toronto city council approved a program to bring residents affordable, high-speed internet service.
The program, ConnectTO, is intended to benefit people who, live in areas currently with higher-priced internet services.
“Bridging this growing digital divide supports Toronto’s most vulnerable and marginalized residents in accessing vital services and resources,” city officials said in a recent press release.
The network will be created by using city assets such as buildings, lights and sidewalks. Qualified service providers will be offered access at a fair price.
Low-income areas will be used to launch the project. Neighbourhoods like Jane-Finch, Golden Mile and Malvern will help test the network when it is introduced later this year.
Lawrence Eta, Toronto’s chief technology officer, praised the program by highlighting the “opportunities for prosperity” it will bring to residents.
“We know that our most vulnerable residents and business are being left behind without fast, reliable and affordable internet,” he said. “ConnectTO is our opportunity to bridge this gap.”
The city in general doesn’t have a problem with high-speed internet, but residents in many low-income areas have complained about high internet bills. The issue runs far beyond low-income areas, however, as residents in the city’s core have voiced the same complaints.
Sofie Story, a resident currently on a visitor’s visa, has switched her internet service provider multiple times since she arrived in the city.
“I’m not used to internet bills this high,” she said. “I was with Rogers at first and now Bell, but I think I’m going to change companies again because I can’t afford it most months,” she said.
If the program’s first phase is successful, phase two will be launched at the start of 2022. This will extend the service to other parts of the city.