MINDEMOYA—Not all is lost for municipalities and First Nations on Manitoulin Island with only one vendor coming forward with interest in providing enhanced wireless high speed internet broadband services in the area. The sole vendor didn’t meet the requirements proposed by the local community, said a Blue Sky Net Economic Growth Corporation representative.
“A request for proposals had been issued (by Blue Sky Net Economic Growth Corporation) for vendors to come forward in providing enhanced wireless high speed internet broadband services in the district of Manitoulin Island area,” said Susan Church of Blue Sky Net last Friday. “We only received one submission, and it wasn’t a model that would be suitable to what the Island municipal and First Nation leaders want. The company that submitted an RFP (request for proposals) was looking to the municipalities and First Nations owning all the infrastructure to be put in place for the service, and paying for it. It really wasn’t the model we were all looking for at this time.”
Ms. Church noted that she met the company (vendor) that had replied (a consortium) to understand their model. “Going forward I will be bringing this information to the First Nations and municipalities on Manitoulin Island.”
However, “for the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Telecommunications Commission) funding we will not be submitting an application for funding for the local municipalities and First Nations (based on the RFP submission made by the one company),” said Ms. Church. She pointed out one municipality or First Nation could still apply on their own, if they choose to.
“What is good is that there is still the opportunity for engagement going forward,” said Ms. Church. “The exercise we went through was good, with Mike Addison (a Blue Sky Net board member) having made a presentation to the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) and the UCCM (United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising) and the fact we have resolutions and letters of support from them to continue to move forward on behalf of those representatives and look at options to solve the ongoing issue of a lack of broadband services for the district.”
“So, no this is not over,” stated Ms. Church. “There is the Universal Broadband fund, and the Ontario broadband fund that are coming up that we can apply for as well.”
Mr. Church also pointed out, “what COVID-19 has done is taught us all of the need to be connected to each other. It is imperative in this day and age to be connected.”
As was previously reported, the MMA and UCCM had given its support the Blue Sky Blue Sky Net Economic Growth Corporation proposal that would help enhance wireless high speed internet broadband services in the area and to put out an RFP for vendors to indicate their interest in providing these services. Blue Sky Net issued an RFP for proposals on February 3 to establish the successful vendor(s) to upgrade board infrastructure and services to the unserved/underserved areas on Manitoulin Island and communities near and on Highway 6. There is $750 million being provided for enhanced internet service through Canada with $315 million being provided for rural Ontario.