Toronto waterfront set for "ultra-broadband"

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 07, 2011 4:59 PM

By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - One of Toronto's newest neighborhoods will start life with some of the fastest Internet connections in the world as developers tempt bandwidth-hungry residents and business into the one-time industrial wasteland.

Modeled on similar undertakings in Seoul, Tokyo, Stockholm, London and Paris, the new area on the shores of Lake Ontario will offer Internet connections that are 500 times faster than a typical North American household link, meaning it will take seconds to download or edit a movie.

"If we want to remain a leading global city, investments ... in ultra-broadband are required as part of the city's infrastructure foundation just like other central infrastructure such as electricity and water," said Evan Kelly, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers.

PwC gave Toronto a middle-of-the-pack ranking on technological readiness in a recent survey of 26 world cities, but ranked it second overall behind New York City.

Developers say the new Internet connections will offer speeds of up to 10 gigabits a second for businesses or 100 megabits for residential use, a crucial draw for the residential and commercial space planned for the mostly disused industrial land to the east of downtown Toronto.

"Having this sort of capacity available to residents will allow for a whole new world of applications we haven't even conceived of yet," said Dan Armstrong, chief executive of Beanfield Metroconnect, the telecommunications company that won the Internet tender.

The revitalization of the Toronto waterfront is expected to cost C$35 billion ($36 billion) in mostly private funds over 25 years.

Each home and business in the 2,000 acre zone will be hooked up to a C$30 million fiber optic network that is guaranteed to be one of the seven best in the world for ten years after the last building is finished, Beanfield says.

The first tenant was media company Corus Entertainment, which moved its headquarters to the lakefront last year.

"We believe that knowledge and creative industries, like digital media and entertainment companies like Corus Entertainment, will also choose to locate in our waterfront communities because of the unparalleled quality of this information and communications technology," said John Campbell, who leads the Waterfront Toronto revitalization project.

($1=$0.98 Canadian)

(Editing by Janet Guttsman)