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NEOnet celebrates two decades
TIMMINS -- For 20 years, NEOnet has been working to enhance access to the internet for communities and businesses throughout northeastern Ontario.
"NEOnet, over the last two decades, has done a lot. A hundred million dollars of stimulated investments mostly in infrastructure but also in business developments to help… grow and adopt digital technology to help them be much more effective and efficient," said Paul Ouimette, NEOnet.
Downtown Timmins has benefited from partnering with NEOnet. Over the summer, business owners were invited to apply for grants to help boost their presence online.
"With NEOnet's expertise and of course the dollars have helped, they've been able to expand or really for the first time enter the digital space with little or no knowledge," said Jamie Roach, Downtown Timmins Board Chair.
Although much progress has been made, NEOnet officials say there is more work to be done as there are still many communities with limited access to the internet.
"It's a huge problem and it's going to take several years to correct… the problem is it's a moving target… what's being deployed today may not necessarily have the capacity that we require for the future," explained Gerard Bruneau, NEOnet Board Chair.
That’s why Ouimette says NEOnet will continue to advocate for more investments.
"Right now, there isn't that stimulus to entice private industry to jump on the bandwagon and make the investments today because it's really not profitable for them. We need to determine how do we bridge that gap and that takes all levels of government in the advocacy to say what do we need in northern Ontario," said Ouimette.
During the federal election campaign, Liberals promised increasing access to the internet to all Canadians. NEOnet officials say they're seeing some improvement and look forward to helping to connect more.