Author Archives: admin

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Welcome to the new R2B2 website!

Tags :

Category : Blog post

We’re pleased to release this new updated website for the R2B2 project. We’re looking forward to keeping you informed about our activities in 2018.

Just a reminder, the SWIFT residential/farm and business surveys are continuing and your input for “Broadband for Everyone” in Southwest Ontario, Niagara and Caledon is greatly appreciated.


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Future Projects

Category : Portfolio

R2B2 is involved in a range of other regional and rural broadband action research activities. This includes relevant university networks such as Digital Futures. We also liaise with social innovation groups (e.g. Evergreen’s Mid-Size City Study), various digital initiatives by the Province of Ontario (e.g. OMAFRA, MEDEI, etc.) as well as federal agencies (e.g. ISED, AAFC, etc.). 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 Canada and Ontario.


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Partnership Development

Category : Portfolio

Regional and rural broadband is best understood as a system which is made up of different actors (e.g. rural and urban consumers, large and small telecoms, political leaders, researchers, engineering consultants, information technology firms, etc.), relationships of trust, governance and accountability and design elements such as financing, facilities and information.

After many years, even decades, of efforts to address broadband gaps in rural and remote areas of Canada, we know that changes in one part of the system are moderated by other parts of the system. For example, investment effectiveness is influenced by the quality of information used for the analysis. Improved analytics for investment decision-making are likely to affect change in other areas of the system, such as a shift to include new actors, or to improve existing relationships as well as financing.

R2B2 seeks to develop knowledge to enhance performance in each element of regional and rural broadband, but also to understand what happens when elements of the system change. This knowledge helps to leverage innovation, we believe, and ultimately, improve the delivery, uptake and use of connectivity in rural areas.


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Happy Holidays and New Year Greetings from the R2B2 Team!

Category : Uncategorized

As 2017 comes to a successful close, we wish you a happy holiday season.  Thank you for your continued support for helping to improve life (our mission statement at the University of Guelph) through regional and rural broadband research!

 

Dr. Helen Hambly | Associate Professor
R2B2 Project Leader
School of Environmental Design & Rural Development | University of Guelph
Johnston Hall 109 | 50 Stone Rd E | Guelph, ON | N1G 2W1
519-824-4120 Ext. 53408 | hhambly@uoguelph.ca
uoguelph.ca/sedrd/


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Future

Category : Portfolio

R2B2 is involved in a range of other regional and rural broadband action research activities. This includes relevant university networks such as Digital Futures. We also liaise with social innovation groups (e.g. Evergreen’s Mid-Size City Study), various digital initiatives by the Province of Ontario (e.g. OMAFRA, MEDEI, etc.) as well as federal agencies (e.g. ISED, AAFC, etc.). 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 Canada and Ontario.


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Other Projects

Category : Portfolio

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.

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.

Thematic Studies

R2B2 engages with a range of partners to conduct thematic studies. Some recent topics are:

  • Connectivity requirements in precision agriculture technologies
  • Telecommuting and home-based business internet access
  • Broadband for telehealth (including online mental health services)
  • Environmental benefits of rural connectivity

 


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Halton Region’s Rural Broadband Study

Category : Portfolio

Beginning in Fall 2017, and in collaboration with the BDO Canada, R2B2 Project supported the Regional Municipality of Halton’s rural broadband needs analysis. This involves an assessment of internet services in non-urban areas of Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville. The focus of data analysis and mapping is the availability of broadband connections, the consistency and reliability of connections, and the cost of service. The findings of Halton Region’s Rural Broadband Study will help inform Regional Council about improving telecommunications infrastructure and services in its smaller communities and agricultural areas.


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SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT)

Category : Portfolio

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.


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Introducing R2B2 Economist – Dr. Jamie Lee

Category : Uncategorized

R2B2 Project is pleased to announce the appointment of a new team member, Dr. Jamie Lee.
Dr. Lee will concentrate his work on the economic side of the project, using his expertise to work on sound economic modeling and empirical techniques.

Dr. Jamie (Donghoon) Lee holds a B.Sc from the University of Victoria and a Masters degree and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Guelph.  He specializes in environmental economics, econometrics and applied microeconomics.

 Jamie’s research has addressed topics such the political aspect of the carbon tax and social discount rates used in public projects. His recent work that looks at the political side of implementing carbon taxes will feature in an upcoming issue of the journal, Strategic Behavior and the Environment.
Welcome Jamie to the R2B2 Project! We are excited to have you join our partnerships for regional and rural connectivity!

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‘Rural Broadband in Alberta’ presentation from Dr.Mark Wolfe

Last week, we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Mark Wolfe to present a R2B2 project seminar. His topic “Rural broadband in Alberta” provided us with a synopsis of the Digital Futures Symposia, convened annually in Alberta since 2013 with the most recent event held on October 15-16, 2015, in Olds, Alberta. Mark Wolfe’s presentation highlighted a some key points for consideration including the following:

  • Alberta, like Southwestern Ontario, is remaking its rural and economic regional identity through new broadband investment strategies. In the words of Mark Wolfe, “a region is not a region unless it knows it is a region” and from the R2B2 project we can add the following, “a region like SW Ontario knows it is a region when it takes on the challenge of rural broadband!” A case in point: Niagara Region teaming up with the Western Ontario Wardens Caucus on the proposed SWIFT Network (www.swiftnetwork.ca).
  • Mark Wolfe congratulated the Ontario Agricultural College on R2B2project.ca and he argued that we lack the type of communications that helps individuals and organizations across Canada’s various provinces and territories to exchange experiences in rural broadband and its relevance to communities and regional development. He proposed that we consider a Canadian magazine along the lines of Broadband Communities  (http://www.bbpmag.com/) in the USA.
  • There is still alot of research to be done, says Mark Wolfe. Efforts, for example, for data stewardship and interactive GIS mapping of connectivity are essential. Solid research supports platforms for multi-stakeholder deliberations and decision-making.

Our thanks from the R2B2 team to Dr. Mark Wolfe, and to guests from the general public as well as OMAFRA, MEDEI, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, colleagues from Ryerson University and University of Guelph staff, faculty and students who were able to join us for this seminar!