North Eastern Ontario Communications Network Inc. (NEOnet) was established in 1999 by a group of community development-minded leaders and organizations as a not-for-profit telecommunications development organization for the region. A digital divide existed between northern and southern Ontario, NEOnet was established to close this gap.
Over the past 22 years NEOnet has done exactly that. The organization has been responsible for securing, leveraging and stimulating over $125,000,000 in information and communications technologies (ICT) investment in northeastern Ontario. NEOnet-led projects have brought 40 communities’ access to high-speed Internet that would have remained unserved and 1,440 kms of additional cell coverage. NEOnet acts as the regional ICT champion for northeastern Ontario working with both the public and private sectors on infrastructure development and enhancement projects and educational initiatives. The NEOnet catchment area includes both the Cochrane and Temiskaming Districts, going south to Temagami; West to Foleyet; north to the James Bay Coast; and east to the Québec Border.
NEOnet is governed by a Board of Directors from a number of different communities and sectors of the economy ensuring a regional and diverse perspective is represented. The organization's strengths include: a positive reputation and relation with the public, stakeholders, private sector and funding agencies; a comprehensive understanding of the current ICT environment and sector; dynamic and dedicated board members who act as a valuable resource and offer continuous support; project management expertise; strong regional perspective and partners; and a passionate and innovative staff.
Over the past 22 years NEOnet has surpassed expectations and assisted in dramatically improving the ICT environment and significantly reducing the digital divide between southern and northern Ontario. An organization such as NEOnet is vital to continue the development of communication technologies throughout the region. Adoption and application of the more readily available ICT services requires knowledge that many residents in northeastern Ontario do not yet have. Residents and small businesses need and rely on an organization such as NEOnet, which acts as a resource, providing education on the opportunities that high-speed Internet offers.