R2B2 is involved in a number of regional and rural broadband action research activities. Here’s a quick list:
Support to the SouthWest Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT)
R2B2 is the research partner to Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) which is a non profit municipally-led broadband expansion project created to improve internet connectivity in underserved communities and rural areas across Southwestern Ontario.
Focused on enabling greater digital equality between rural and urban populations, SWIFT subsidizes the construction of open-access high-speed networks to support the expansion of broadband infrastructure in areas that do not meet the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) Universal Service Objective of 50 Mbps down, 10 Mbps up (50/10).
R2B2 is the research partner to SWIFT. Our role is to study the economic benefits of broadband investment across the region. 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.
Support to Municipalities on Broadband Feasibility Studies (e.g. Town of Caledon; Town of Collingwood)
Town of Caledon: In 2016, R2B2 supported the Town of Caledon with a gap analysis of the current state of connectivity. Caledon conducts community engagement for digital inclusion and innovation opportunities. In 2016, Council established a “Broadband Levy” which collects $300,000 per year, or $11 per household, to facilitate internet services for residents and businesses, in alignment with Council’s Broadband Internet Workplan objective. Caledon remains at the forefront of strengthening connectivity for its residents and business.
Town of Collingwood: Collingwood, Ontario has a thriving and growing business community largely due to its increasing number of new residents as well as seasonal residents and tourists. Local businesses in Collingwood are important stakeholders of broadband-enabled technologies. Some of these businesses operate across the country and around the world. In 2016, we assisted the Town of Collingwood to collect information about the current and future use of broadband as an essential utility. The Town is currently in the process of integrating this information into its planning.
R2B2 engages with a range of partners to conduct thematic studies. We also support University of Guelph students with the design and implementation of undergraduate or graduate research projects. Some recent topics are:
- Connectivity requirements for precision agriculture technologies
- Telecommuting and home-based business internet access
- Broadband for telehealth (including online mental health services)
- Small business user access and applications
- Social benefits of rural connectivity
R2B2 is part of university networks such as Digital Future. We encourage the work of partnerships such as the Intelligent Communities Forum (Canada). We liaise with social innovation groups (e.g. Evergreen’s Mid-Size City Study), various digital initiatives by the provincial and federal agencies (e.g. OMAFRA, ISED, AAFC). We welcome new collaborations and seek to ensure the best possible knowledge base for “all things rural Internet.” We do this not only for the sake of top-notch research and innovation, but also for the benefit of everyone living in Ontario and across Canada.