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As the district looks for economic development, it finds itself lagging behind competing areas in Canada and the northern midwestern states in telecommunications. Today’s modern businesses require telephone line, fax lines, ATM card lines, direct connection computer lines and internet lines. And that doesn’t bring into account video conferencing, high speed internet access. Health care facilities and educational facilities also require these services and more.

If the district is going to be serious about attracting new businesses and supporting existing businesses to remain competitive, we must have those telecommunication tools. Business is no longer done with just the customers in your community. The internet allows customers and suppliers to reach out to any place in the world to do business and communicate. And businesses in the district require that same access.

Since 1995, a technology committee of health care providers, educators, business, industry, the Rainy River Future Development Committee, the Town of Fort Frances has been working to bring broad band width communications to the district. These are the services that are common in most cities in Canada. Every sector of our district community needs these services.

The original forecast for the use of cell phones in the district was 275 customers after one year. In just over 3 months, over 1100 phones are now being used for business and personal use. The district has shown that if the services are made available they will use them.

At Monday evening’s Fort Frances Council meeting, Mayor Witherspoon indicated that Bell Canada would be making an announcement with regard to service in Fort Frances and the district. We hope that the announcement will bring us into the twenty-first century. Anything less would be a disappointment.

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