Bell Canada will spend about $400 million over the next five years to expand its high-speed internet network in Hamilton, the largest digital infrastructure investment in the city’s history.
The investment will bring the possibility of direct fibre network connections to more than 200,000 homes and business locations in urban and rural parts of the city, with data speeds up to 1.5 gigabits per second.
“It’s a fantastic investment,” said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “We would encourage all companies – Cogeco, Rogers and others – to do the same.”
Once installed, the upgraded technology would only be available to Bell subscribers and those who switch over from a competitor.
“If someone wants to make a switch in the future or wants to become a Bell customer down the line, that technology will be available,” said Nathan Gibson, a Bell spokesperson.
“We would then connect the customer’s residence directly to the fibre network.”
Most of the network upgrade will be new fibre cables installed underground, along with some located on Bell, Hydro One and Alectra Utilities poles.
“Broadband accessibility and high-speed connectivity is rapidly becoming the new essential utility and is vital to economic growth,” said Cyrus Tehrani, the city’s chief digital officer.
Bell Canada senior vice-president Bruce Furlong said Hamilton is becoming a leader in advanced technology and innovation.
“Our historic partnership will provide the critical infrastructure necessary to deliver the next generation of communications services to Hamiltonians while accelerating the city’s ongoing digital transformation,” Furlong said in a statement.
Bell’s announcement comes after the company worked in conjunction with the mayor’s intelligent community task force, which has put in place a process through the public works department to help streamline digital infrastructure improvements.
“Rogers or Cogeco or anyone else can take advantage of the same process that we’ve set up that helps facilitate this kind of investment,” said Eisenberger.
Bell’s upgrade also includes expansion of its wireless home internet service to 8,000 homes in rural parts of Hamilton, which will provide 5G-capable technology delivered over Bell’s LTE wireless network.