News Could a $25 million internet project benefit Dorset? Officials say it’s a starting point SHARE ON: James Bowler, contributor, Thursday, Sep. 21st, 2017 A proposed plan to expand internet service in Muskoka could help Dorset residents. Lakeland Networks is waiting to see if it will be approved for federal funding to take on a $25 million project to bring fibre optic internet to more rural Muskoka communities. Lakeland Holding Ltd. CEO Chris Litschko says they would be extending a fibre optic trunk line up Highway 117 into Lake of Bays Township. Litschko says that won’t serve the entire community just yet, but it will be a good starting point. //www.myhaliburtonnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/lob-internet-clip-1.wav An online survey recently released by Lake of Bays officials found 80 per cent of residents were unhappy with their current internet service. Most residents said they are only able to get internet through cell or wireless services and would happily sign up for fibre optic service. Litschko says they need to weigh the pros and cons of investing in a network in rural areas like Dorset. //www.myhaliburtonnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/lob-internet-clip-2.wav He says Lakeland Networks is open to partnering with the municipality as well to help cover the cost of expanding the fibre optic reach. The initial trunk line expansion project is contingent on funding from the federal Connect to Innovate fund. Lakeland Networks sent in an application to recoup about 75 per cent of the $25 million cost earlier this year. Litschko says they expect to hear back sometime in late October or early November on whether or not the project has been approved for funding. //www.myhaliburtonnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/lob-internet-clip-3.wav If approved, the project would take about three years to complete and could serve over 4,000 homes in many rural communities in Muskoka.