SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) is a not-for-profit, collective broadband initiative that is funding the construction of an affordable, open-access, ultra-high-speed fibre-optic regional broadband network for everyone in Southwestern Ontario, Caledon and the Niagara Region.
The project is leveraging $180 million in combined investments by the federal and provincial governments and over $17 million in investments by municipalities across the region. To overcome our region’s longstanding broadband infrastructure gaps, SWIFT has developed a long-term plan to help more than 3.5 million Ontarians to connect and keep pace in a changing digital world.
SWIFT membership is open to any community or organization in southwestern Ontario that needs connectivity to any of its locations. Members benefit from SWIFT’s significant procurement expertise, including aggregated demand, negotiated rates, and support in preparing RFPs for broadband services. As a buying group, SWIFT also ensures greater competition between telecom service providers which will lead to better services at lower prices in member communities.
R2B2 is the research partner to SWIFT which is a fibre-optic network that is in the process of connecting 10% of Canada’s population or 3.5 million people in Ontario to ultra-high speed internet services. We support SWIFT with analytics (econometrics and geo-spatial analysis), data stewardship and knowledge mobilization. Our role is to ensure that publicly co-funded backbone, middle-mile and last mile broadband challenges achieve the highest possible return on investment.
Since the 2012 feasibility study, R2B2 has worked with SWIFT to strategize regional broadband planning and impact assessment – one of the recognized challenges is the lack of reliable baseline data that is “evergreen” or continually updated for on-going decision-making.
SWIFT’s Board of Directors considers the research partnership with University of Guelph an innovative aspect of its initiative. Municipalities and citizen groups across the region can call upon R2B2 to join in community engagement and knowledge mobilization on broadband issues relevant to their communities. We engage University of Guelph students in this important initiative to develop capacity for their future work related to digital opportunities for small communities and rural areas.