Steve Van Groningen of Xplornet outlines the rural Internet service provider’s plan, for a $24 million upgrade of its system for households and businesses in Prescott-Russell, during the January 15 session of United Counties of Prescott and Russell council.
Steve Van Groningen of Xplornet outlines the rural Internet service provider’s plan, for a $24 million upgrade of its system for households and businesses in Prescott-Russell, during the January 15 session of United Counties of Prescott and Russell council.

Xplornet has big plans for rural Internet service

Rural Internet service in Prescott-Russell could become faster and better than ever when a private-sector upgrade project gets underway.

“We have many (service) towers which will be upgraded over the next few months,” said Chris Phillips, Xplornet sales manager for Eastern and Northern Ontario who met, along with several company officials, with United Counties of Prescott and Russell council (UCPR), January 15, to explain the company’s Connect to Innovate project (CTI).

CTI is a $24 million expansion project for Xplornet, with the company investing $19.07 million of its own funds and the federal government providing $5.51 million under its rural broadband improvement program fund. The project involves installing 366 kilometres of hybrid fibre-optic line throughout the region, setting up 18 wireless small cell tower booster stations, and installing or upgrading 32 main towers.

When complete, Van Groningen noted, all 38,000 rural households in Prescott-Russell and SDG, linked to the Xplornet system will have faster Internet access service, with access speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second downloading time.

Van Groningen noted that the UCPR’s support for Xplornet’s CTI proposal helped the company get federal investment in the project. He told the eight mayors on UCPR council that the company now seeks help with fast-tracking permitting approvals, and support for rights-of-way access, to speed up project construction when it begins later in the year.

Alfred-Plantagenet Township Mayor Stéphane Sarrazin asked how much the upgraded Internet service would cost households. He noted that some rural homeowners have limited budgeting flexibility and might need to choose between necessities like groceries over better Internet access.

Van Groningen indicated the company is ready to make individual presentations to the councils for all eight municipalities in Prescott-Russell, on details of the CTI project.

Work continues on the Ecolomondo project, a “green” addition to Hawkesbury’s industrial sector and the company is optimistic about having its new showpiece recycling facility ready soon.