Ontario’s Roadmap to Rural Connectivity

Canadian Utility Partners with Wesco to Deliver High-Speed Connectivity to Remote Communities

The Government of Ontario made a commitment to support large-scale fibre-based projects throughout the province so unserved or underserved rural, northern, and Indigenous communities would have access to high-speed connectivity. 

Being able to connect more communities to high-speed internet is crucial to building a stronger Ontario and to supporting long-term economic growth throughout the region. For families living in rural communities, it will broaden the options for work from home opportunities, enhance the delivery of important services such as healthcare, education, and emergency and public safety services, and bring the digital world to their doorstep.

With the goal of having the project completed by 2025, it would mean finding new and innovative ways to meet that deadline.

Fibre Broadband is Worth the Wait

Speed to market is a critical factor to successfully delivering on the promise to bring high-speed connectivity to all Ontarians. 

Ontario is Canada’s second largest province by land area and its geography varies from lowlands in the east to flat plains and rolling hills in the southeast and forests and tundra in the northern area. Ontario is one of the most populous provinces in Canada, but much of the vast northern upland region of the province is sparse and the population density is low. While the stark beauty of the hills, valleys, forests, and rivers enhance the quality of life, they also pose some of the biggest challenges to infrastructure deployment. Deploying broadband in remote and rugged areas can be a slow process and can add significant costs to a project. With portions of the northern most parts of Ontario having long, severely cold winters and short summers, this greatly narrows the window of opportunity for completing new construction.

So how do you overcome these challenges? The answer is utilizing existing utility poles. Utility poles have reliably carried electric and phone lines for generations and are proving to be the answer for quickly implementing broadband services and decreasing construction costs in rural areas. In many cases, aerial installation is less costly than trenching and is less likely to be delayed by inclement weather conditions.

Becoming Broadband Ready

One of the largest electrical transmission and distribution companies in North America is a critical partner in Ontario’s rural broadband initiative, and very committed to bringing high-speed connectivity to the entire province of Ontario. This company’s electrical distribution infrastructure serves many of the homes and businesses throughout the province and leveraging their network would help support and fast-track the enablement of broadband. Utilizing their existing utility poles would make fibre deployment less costly and the project could be completed faster.

To ready those existing poles to support fibre deployment requires a process called make-ready, whereby all the poles throughout the system must be field-inspected and evaluated to make sure they are ready for fibre attachment and can accept the additional cable/fibre attachment. Poles must also be tall enough to guarantee necessary clearances between electrical facilities and the ground. The process requires repairs and/or replacements to all poles that don’t meet the strict standards for this type of project.

While utilizing existing utility poles to deploy broadband can greatly speed up the time for deployment, it is still a lengthy process to take these make-ready steps to ensure that the infrastructure being used is not overburdened or unsafe.

The electrical utility knew that a project as large and complex as this make-ready endeavor would take experience and expertise to keep the project moving smoothly and efficiently. With over 76,000 miles of infrastructure in their network, the logistics of ensuring the inventory was in place and available for each segment of the project was critical. They felt that the project would be better serviced by distribution and logistics support partner who had broadband deployment experience as well as the proven ability to manage large and complex projects.

The Right Tools for the Job

In their bid process, the utility wanted to make sure that the partner they chose could not only “talk the talk, but could walk the walk” in terms of having the expertise to manage the project, keep it running smoothly and efficiently, and keep it on schedule.

There were several reasons that made Wesco the ideal choice to partner with the utility on this project.

  • The utility already had a well-respected supplier relationship with Wesco to supply them T&D equipment and services.
  • Having industry-leading knowledge and expertise with the complexities of these types of broadband projects meant that Wesco had creative and innovative methods already in-place to streamline and accelerate deployment processes.
  • Wesco’s reputation for delivering proven solutions for supply chain efficiency and agility is considered one of their core competencies and sets them apart from the competition.
  • Wesco had the proven-track record to manage the full scope of the project, thus allowing the utility to focus on delivering essential services to their customers while Wesco took full responsibility of the broadband project.
  • Wesco’s sheer size gave them the flexibility and scalability to meet the requirement of the project.

Connectivity and Partnerships Go Hand in Hand

Partnering with a single-source provider for the supply chain management of this make-ready project allows for greater logistical effectiveness and provides solutions to drive efficiencies for time savings and spend optimization.

Using a holistic supply chain management approach allows Wesco to manage the collective demands of this project, including:

  • Financial modeling
  • Sourcing, procurement, and inventory management
  • Data management
  • Full operational support for project – including warehousing, yard facilities and equipment, warehouse management, staffing, customer service, logistics coordination, real estate planning, and coordination
  • IT systems integration for reporting and recording all transactions

Wesco is proud to be partnering with the utility on this opportunity to deliver life-changing access to high-speed connectivity to homes and businesses in every corner of Ontario.

Powerlines in field macro rural

Broadband and FTTx

Wesco is helping utilities and municipalities provide fibre networks and broadband service to customers in remote and rural communities. 


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