CENGN Announces Rural Ontario High-Speed Internet Project for Lanark County

Use of Abandoned Rail Corridor Will Bring High-Performance Internet to Underserved Residents of Lanark County

CENGN is announcing the launch of an innovative project that will bring improved high-speed internet access to underserved Lanark County residents located in Beckwith and Drummond-North Elmsley Townships. This project is part of CENGN’s Rural Ontario Residential Broadband program and will serve as a model for other communities across the province looking to extend high-performance internet service utilizing access corridors such as abandoned rail corridors for new fibre optic networks.

Community Fibre Selected for High-Speed Internet Solution

Internet Service Provider Community Fibre Company was selected to address the needs of underserved residents living throughout a wide area of southern Lanark County. This project will focus on providing high-speed internet to more than 450 homes within Beckwith and Drummond – North Elmsley Townships. Supported by CENGN program funding, Community Fibre Company will utilize a 19 km long access corridor to install fibre along an abandoned rail line currently part of the Ottawa Valley Recreational Trail (OVRT). The former rail bed will be used to connect to two high-speed internet points of presence to enable a resilient topology and ensure reliable access to the internet. The access corridor will also provide access to a number of crossroads where internet access can be distributed using an additional 61 km of new aerial pole-mounted optical fibre to reach underserved rural residents.

This new innovative approach to rural internet access will bring a range of high-speed internet access services to the residents within a very rapid timeframe. The project will utilize a new dramatically lower-cost approach to optical fibre deployments, enabling 50% cost savings through a 24-count fibre optic backbone and lightweight flat-drop fibre optic cable for distribution, instead of expensive, heavy armoured optical cables.

The project promises several benefits, including:


“CENGN is pleased to support Community Fibre Company’s approach using an abandoned rail corridor and innovative fibre optic infrastructure to reduce the cost of internet access in rural areas dramatically,” said Jean-Charles Fahmy, President and CEO of CENGN. “Reliable and high-performance internet services will support the growth and prosperity of the Lanark County community. By supporting and documenting this innovative solution, CENGN will gain a strong blueprint to help address the challenges of similar communities in Northern Ontario and across the province.”

“Access to reliable broadband internet is essential for all Ontarians, no matter where they live. Businesses, families, schools and hospitals in rural areas like Lanark County need fast connections just as much as urban areas,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade. “Our latest Budget brings our total new broadband investments to nearly $4 billion over six years, the largest single investment in broadband by a province in Canadian history. That’s in addition to the funds we’ve committed to CENGN to support important projects like this one, which will have a real impact on people’s everyday lives.”

“Ontarians deserve access to reliable, high-speed internet regardless of where they live or work. The Ontario government is taking action by bringing high-speed internet to communities like Lanark County,” said Hon. Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure. “This investment continues to build on Ontario’s commitment to connect every home, community and area with access to high-speed internet by the end of 2025 to ensure people get the services they want and need.”

“Lanark County is very excited to partner with CENGN and Community Fibre to increase connectivity in Beckwith and Drummond – North Elmsley Townships,” said Lanark Warden Christa Lowry. “Accessing reliable and affordable broadband is critical for our residents and businesses in rural communities, and this need has only increased as a result of the pandemic. Improving access to high-speed internet is a top priority for our Council, and this project will support our goal to connect more households. We are grateful to be part of this project and for CENGN’s investment in our community to ensure access to education, health care and government and to position us for future prosperity, economic growth and innovation.”

Beautiful Mississippi Lake Shoreline

Beautiful Mississippi Lake Shoreline

“Community Fibre is very pleased CENGN selected our rural broadband project in Lanark County that will bring our gigabit-class Fibre To The Home internet service to more than 450 underserved homes.  Extending high-speed fibre internet access to rural communities is a foundational part of Community Fibre’s mission, and CENGN’s rural broadband project will enable us to demonstrate increased scale of our innovative approach to the delivery of internet access.  Our team is committed to deliver help towards closing the rural broadband gap by innovating in how optical fibre base broadband services are implemented in Ontario,” said Benjamin LaHaise, President and Founder, Community Fibre Company

The Next Generation Network Program (NGNP)

This project is part of the Next Generation Network Program (NGNP), an Ontario government program powered by CENGN in partnership with the Ontario Centre of Innovation, which helps Ontario companies develop and demonstrate new wired and wireless technology, products and services. Other projects in the program are focused on smart miningsmart agriculture, and autonomous vehicles.

Quick Facts


Rick Penwarden
Senior Manager, Communications
CENGN – Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks
613-963-1200 ex:329


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About the Author

Rick is a proud member of the Canadian research and technology community, having an extensive background in tech commercialization and industry adoption of innovative technologies. Through his experience with start-up businesses and not-for-profit organizations, Rick is an outspoken advocate for the integration of technology to improve both industry outputs and society.

Over the past 5 years, Rick has managed the public relations and communications for CENGN, Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks. At the centre of an organization that facilitates collaboration between tech businesses, industry leaders, academia and government, Rick champions the message that talent development and commercial growth in advanced networking technology is crucial to a thriving economy.

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