Friday, June 5, 2020

SWIFT issues RFP to improve high-speed internet access

Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) is moving forward with its commitment to improve internet access throughout Southwestern Ontario.

On Tuesday, March 31 the regional broadband project announced it has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the construction of approximately $10.4 million worth of critical broadband infrastructure within the municipality of Chatham-Kent, Municipal officials said in a media release.

In addition to the newly announced RFP, SWIFT is also working to finalize a contract for a project with Delaware Nation at Moraviantown valued at an estimated $700,000.

In total, the collective value of the project area is approximately $11.1 million.

“SWIFT is proud to announce that many more residents in Chatham-Kent will soon have access to high-speed internet,” stated Barry Field, executive director for SWIFT, in a media release.

“With (Tuesday’s) announcement we are looking forward to continuing to work with the municipality and our service providers to create new opportunities for families and businesses as we move forward in addressing the region’s connectivity challenges.”

North Kent Councillor Jamie McGrail, a Chatham-Kent SWIFT Board member, said she was thrilled with the news.

“Today is an exciting day as we take the next step forward to supply rural Chatham-Kent with reliable, accessible Internet with our partnership with SWIFT,” McGrail said in a press release.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said this is a “very positive” development.

“Current events have demonstrated that once again, access to high speed internet service is vital to our rural residents,” Canniff said in a press release.

SWIFT will leverage approximately $3.4 million in funding contributions received from its municipal partners to support up to 2/3 of the eligible costs for awarded projects, Municipal officials say.

SWIFT is also working with Chatham-Kent to secure a loan of up to $3.6-million to top up available funding to maximize the total value of the project and its projected return on investment.

“SWIFT represents a unified regional voice and the combined connectivity interest of Southwestern Ontario,” stated David Mayberry, Board Chair, SWIFT, in a media release.

“In response to the growing need for increased access to high-speed internet I’m proud to say that SWIFT’s municipal partners are strategically working together to pool our resources and fund the expansion of critical broadband infrastructure across the region.”

Prequalified service providers have until November 13, 2020 to submit network designs and proposals to address broadband service gaps in eligible funding areas, Municipal officials say.

All compliant proposals will be evaluated against an assessment criteria to identify high-quality projects.

Contracts and funding will be awarded to successful proponents based on ability to provide the Universal Service Objective of 50 Mbps down, 10 Mbps up (50/10) or greater, number of premises passed, future scalability of the network and service provider contribution proportion, among other project selection factors, Municipal officials added.

Selected and approved projects will be announced once SWIFT has completed its evaluation assessment, negotiated contracts and awarded funding to projects that scored the highest based on the evaluation process.

SWIFT is a non-profit regional broadband project initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to subsidize the construction of high-speed broadband networks across Southwestern Ontario.

For more information about SWIFT, visit www.swiftruralbroadband.ca.

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