By: Mike Anderson

If you live in a rural area, you probably have lousy internet service.   

That means everyday tasks like online shopping, banking, or watching streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+ are often an exercise in frustration. 

“Businesses and residents across Georgina continue to experience poor internet connectivity with many of the internet speeds well below the CRTC minimum threshold,” said Shawn Nastke, the Town’s head of Corporate Services Delivery Excellence, during a presentation on broadband connectivity made to council last month. 

By 2021, the CRTC wants 90 per cent of Canadian homes and businesses to have access to broadband speeds of at least 50 Mbps (megabytes per second) for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads. 

However, Mr. Nastke says that many residents in Georgina experience download speeds averaging 5 Mbps — that’s ten times slower than the CRTC’s target.  At 5 Mbps, a 10 Mb file would take approximately 16 seconds to download – which would try most people’s patience.  

And that’s a problem for a municipality that’s trying to attract business investment. 

Mr. Natske says research shows that providing fast and affordable internet connectivity across both urban and rural communities fosters economic growth and job creation.  

He says that many local governments are moving to enhance internet services, giving them a competitive advantage over Georgina. 

“In some cases, businesses choose not to come to a community that lacks adequate internet services,” said Mayor Margaret Quirk. “It’s something that we need to move forward on and have a strategy in place and to figure out just what to do and how we want to do it.”

The Town’s 2020 draft budget has allocated $75,000 towards hiring a consultant to help draft a Broadband strategy and action plan for the municipality.

According to Mr. Nastke, this will help determine how to “best leverage” the 100 km of fibre optic infrastructure due to be installed across Georgina by YorkNet, starting next year.  

And, it will help council decide what to do with the South Shore Community Broadband (SSCB) wireless network – acquired by the Town in 2013.

The Town will host a workshop for local Businesses to discuss their broadband needs on Monday, Nov. 25, at Egypt Hall, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

In the meantime, the Town is asking residents to complete an internet speed survey, which will help identify gaps in service.  The survey runs until Nov. 30 and can be found at georgina.ca/broadband

There’s also an info session about YorkNet’s plans to expand broadband in Georgina on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the ROC, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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