Turkey Point area tapped for high-speed service

Port Rowan Coun. Tom Masschaele, Norfolk's representative to the SWIFT high-speed internet initiative, hailed a $2.1 million announcement Thursday that will bring high-speed service to Turkey Point, Walsh and Normandale by the end of the year. Monte Sonnenberg/Postmedia jpeg, TN

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“Slowly but surely” would have been a good marketing slogan for internet-service providers in the bad old days of dial-up.

Today, “Slowly but surely” describes the progress of next-generation internet across Norfolk County now that the drive is on to bring reliable, high-speed service to every home and business.

The latest under-serviced zones on the to-do list include Walsh, Normandale and Turkey Point.

On Nov. 12, local, provincial and federal dignitaries gathered in Turkey Point to announce $2.1 million in funding to install fibre-optic cable in these communities. The work should be finished by the end of the year.

“We deserve it and really need it,” says Port Rowan Coun. Tom Masschaele, Norfolk’s representative to the Southwestern Internet Fibre Technology (SWIFT) initiative. “I’m really happy about this day.”

Ottawa and Queen’s Park have put up $690,000 apiece for the project. The remainder will come from Norfolk County as a member of SWIFT and the contractor overseeing the installation – Execulink Telecom.

Residents of Norfolk County about to have their first experience with reliable, high-speed internet are uniformly excited by the prospect. Many areas of Norfolk outside urban centres continue to get by with service best described as sporadic.

In Turkey Point, in-home internet continues to be delivered over copper phone lines. Cedar Drive resident Sheila Vandenbussche says service in the resort community is spotty at best, especially on weekends when Turkey Point is crowded and there are extreme demands on the system.

“At times, it’s intermittent, depending on how many people are here using it,” Vandenbussche said. “We do a lot of things from home, so it’s nice to know it’ll be there for us when we want it and that we won’t have to wait for the visitors to go home before we can use it.”

Ryan Francke, supervisor of community sales for Execulink, says affected households and businesses are in for a pleasant surprise. Turkey Point, he said, never advanced to the next step above copper wire – coaxial cable. High-speed fibre-optic cable is a cut above them all.

“That will eliminate the traffic jams and the slow speeds,” Francke said.

The urgency of extending high-speed internet to all homes and businesses in southern Ontario has been likened to the campaign for rural electrification in the 1920s and 1930s.

As it was with electricity, authorities regard high-speed internet as an issue of social equity. As such, the drive to extend high-speed internet to all residents has unfolded as a non-partisan issue. On hand at the Turkey Point Food Market for the Nov. 12 announcement were MPs and MPPs representing federal Liberals and provincial Progressive Conservatives.

“Reliable broadband infrastructure is crucial to ensuring the success of all residents in Southwestern Ontario,” said London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos, speaking on behalf of Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development in the Trudeau cabinet.

“This includes members of rural communities who have been calling for this change. Equality of opportunity is what is at stake, and the federal government is committed – through collaboration on the SWIFT project – to making that outcome a reality for all Canadians.”

Fragiskatos added his government has set a goal of 2030 as the year when all Canadians have access to reliable, high-speed internet.