A Muskoka-based internet company says more government investment is needed to expand rural coverage.

Lakeland Networks CEO Chris Litschko says his company is working towards more expansion each year, but the price tag is hefty and it can’t completely fall on the shoulders of the providers. Litschko says Lakeland continues to look for provincial and federal assistance whenever it can.

Litschko says his company is already using a tri-funding model between Lakeland, the province and the feds to take on a $2.3 million fibre optic internet expansion project in the Bracebridge and Huntsville areas.  That project is expected to be finished by 2020.

The company is also spending $1.25 million on a fibre optic expansion in Gravenhurst, which is expected to be completed by this fall.

A federal committee tasked with reviewing rural internet needs in Canada is urging the government to invest in a rural internet expansion problem that is estimated to cost at least $7 billion. The cross-party committee says despite internet being labelled a living necessity by the CRTC, there are still many rural communities, including some in Muskoka, that don’t have access to internet download speeds of at least 50 megabits, the speed set as a benchmark.

Litschko says he agrees the internet is a necessity.

The federal committee is suggesting the government create a rural broadband strategy to tackle this issue. Canada’s Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development says it will be reviewing the recommendations from the committee.

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Lakeland Energy is looking to the District of Muskoka to assist in a rural internet project