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An update on broadband in Durham

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Broadband in Durham’s northern areas continues to be an issue almost a year after council approved a comprehensive municipal strategy.

The strategy was approved by council in February 2019, and it contains actions meant to address broadband service issues in the parts of Durham which face a lack of infrastructure and slow internet speeds.
In August, Riaz Razvi, a broadband specialist, was hired by the region to implement the strategy’s initial action items.

According to a report from Brian Bridgeman, Durham’s commissioner of planning and economic development, through the third quarter of 2019, the region established the structure of programs to address the issue, as well as more detailed planning.

Since then, an internal broadband working group consisting of regional staff from the planning, works, finance, and various other departments was formed.

In September, the group began meeting every month, according to Bridgeman.

A steering committee consisting of Bridgeman and commissioner of works Susan Siopis was also established to provide oversight, re-align priorities, and assist in any decision making.

The region has also formed a Durham broadband roundtable, which will meet quarterly. The first meeting will be on Feb. 6.

The roundtable consists of senior-level technology and strategy representatives from the region’s municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals.

“[These sectors] have the objective of enabling collaboration and exploring opportunities to leverage synergies to more rapidly deploy broadband access across Durham,” writes Bridgeman.

The region also recently launched the Durham Broadband Survey, which is targeting households, farms, and businesses.

“The survey will collect detailed and accurate information on broadband coverage and attainable speeds across the region, and will be available online and in printed hard copy,” says Bridgeman.

The survey also contains a link to a speed testing service which will provide the region with data on people’s internet speeds.

Residents are able to complete the survey until April 30.