Ontario county moxie helps lure a telecom consultant

Local counties and regions across the country that have invested in broadband often have case studies for boasting how they have attracted business with connectivity as good as urban areas.

Oxford County in south-west Ontario has another if it wants: telecom consultant Roberta Fox.

Fox, chairman of Fox Group, runs her office with her husband (the CTO) and an administrator from a rural property north of Toronto. But for family reasons she decided to move near London, Ont.

The criteria: a location that had business-grade broadband — at least 1.5 Mbps for three people to simultaneously use unified communications applications including video.

Using wireline and wireless maps, she found the area south of the town of Woodstock with a 100 MB fibre optic line, very good wireless coverage for backup, plus DSL and cable for redundancy.

“I can have more bandwidth than I ever wanted,” Fox said.

The reason why Oxford has such good connectivity is in part the county got aggressive on getting broadband by taking advantage of provincial money.

“If one county in part of the province can do it, why can’t other parts of rural Canada?” Fox asks.

Oxford is like a number of rural areas in the nation that are urging provincial and federal governments to help them bring in broadband

Ottawa is about to start its second round of rural broadband project spending, this time with $305 million targeted at the most remote communities. Provinces also have money.

Oxford took advantage of the provincial Rural Connections Broadband Program, which launched in 2007. According to the program Web site, as of 2013 it had invested $31.4 million in 54 rural broadband programs.

One of the biggest, the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, which got $110 million from the province and Ottawa to expand fibre optic across its area, was scheduled to be finished this year.

When the Rural Connections Broadband Program was set up, Oxford created a group called Rural Oxford Connections to improve connectivity for 35,000 residents. The two-year $3 million project resulted from that included the selection of Woodstock, Ont.,-based Execulink Telecom as a fixed wireless service provider.

Execulink also offers fibre to the home in some areas.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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