Fort William First Nation’s Tbaytel customers along with those in rural areas will soon have new and improved Internet and communication capabilities.

The plan is to extend fibre optic lines to more than 2,000 residential and business customers.

Dan Topatigh, president and CEO of Tbaytel, said that Fort William First Nation and the municipalities of Oliver Paipoonge, Neebing and Shuniah will soon have fibre optics for high-speed broadband Internet directly to the unserviced customers.

“There are nine areas that we have identified that economically, would be very challenging for Tbaytel to bring services to, but this is fibre directly to the home — and at the end of the day it is future-proofing the community in terms of service capability for those areas,” said Topatigh.

“This is part of the future for Tbaytel and really connecting those regions that have a very low density and that’s part of the reason we have identified these areas.”

MPP Michael Gravelle, minister of Northern Development and Mines, said these are communities that need fibre optic upgrades.

“In terms of broadband expansion, it’s hugely important from a communications infrastructure point of view,” said Gravelle.

“The (Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation) has made this a real priority across Northern Ontario in the last 10 years and we have invested probably over $70 million in a variety of projects to upgrade cellular service and upgrade broadband.”

Currently more than 700 of the identified homes receive no service at all.

The new service is being helped by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, which is putting $750,000 toward Tbaytel’s $2-million investment in the plan.

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