TORONTO – Calling it the most historic day in Bell Canada’s 135-year history in Toronto, the telecom giant announced Thursday it will bring gigabit Internet service to 1.1 million homes and businesses across the city within three years.
Bell president and CEO George Cope made the announcement alongside City of Toronto mayor John Tory, telling media and guests that it’s the largest and most ambitious infrastructure project the company has ever undertaken.
“This will prove to be a historic day for telecom services in Toronto, and indeed all of Canada,” said Cope.
Bell is investing $1.14 billion to bring its Gigabit Fibe service to 1.1 million homes and businesses, including 50,000 this summer. Close cooperation with Toronto Hydro to leverage existing city infrastructure will be critical to the speed of the rollout. Other cities in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada will follow as part of a plan by Bell to invest $20 billion in its broadband fibre and wireless networks by 2020.
In Toronto alone, the project is expected to create 2,400 direct jobs, with significant economic spinoffs. Bell is estimating that, overall, the project will create more than 8,000 direct and indirect jobs across Ontario and $2.5 billion in economic activity.
“This is the largest gigabit fibre network built to date in any North American city. Toronto will lead the world in broadband,” said Cope, promising service that can download an entire HD movie in seven seconds. “It’s something none of us could have imagined just a few years ago. It makes Toronto a better place to live, work and play. Toronto will be the smart city and a world leader in broadband technology tomorrow, and into the future.”
Mayor Tory said his office, City Hall and Toronto Hydro worked hard to bring this Bell investment to the city because this improved service will be crucial to attracting and retaining top talent and quality jobs in Toronto.
“This is something that will make a big difference to attracting investment and jobs, and keeping people and jobs,” said Tory. “We’ve been complacent recently in making the investments that will keep us on top. We’re seen as a world leader in telecom, but we can’t rest on our laurels. This is going to be an important part of keeping Toronto on top.”
Bell said service will initially be available at a maximum of 940 MBps, rising to 1000 MBps or better in 2016 as modem equipment suppliers catch up with gigabit speeds.
The Toronto rollout will be accelerated through an agreement with Toronto Hydro, the city-owned utility, to share utility poles. Bell will be upgrading 27 Bell Central Office facilities in the city and more than 9,000 km of fibre will be installed, underground through more than 10,000 manholes and on 80,000 utility poles. About one-third of the network will be underground, and two-thirds above ground.
In the U.S., Google has rolled out its Google Fibre service to Provo, Austin and Kansas City, with five more cities launching soon.
Toronto residents can follow the progress of the rollout and see when the service reaches their neighbourhood at www.Bell.ca/Fibe.