A new high-speed internet service that will allow users to download movies in about seven seconds will soon be available in Toronto as part of a massive Bell Canada infrastructure project that is expected to generate 2,400 jobs locally.

Bell Canada President and CEO George Cope announced on Thursday morning that the telecommunications company is investing $1.14 billion in bringing gigabit-per-second internet service to the Toronto area.

The service will be available to 50,000 businesses and residences this summer and will then be expanded to another 1.1 million premises over the next 36 months.

“This is something that quite frankly none of us could have imagined just a few years ago,” Cope told reporters. “This will be 20 times faster (than average internet speeds) and it really is building for the consumer what large, large enterprise would have had just a few years ago for their corporations.”

According to Cope, the delivery of gigabit-per-second internet service to Toronto customers will require the laying of about 9,000 kilometres of fibre in the city both underground via 10,000 manhole covers and above ground on 80,000 Bell and Toronto Hydro poles. Extensive work will also have to be completed at 27 Bell facilities across the city.

Though pricing for the service has not been released, Cope said it is intended to be “a mass consumer product” and will be priced accordingly.

Speaking with reporters at Thursday’s announcement, Mayor John Tory said he views the new high-speed internet service as an important tool in “keeping Toronto on top”

“I don’t think that there is a real understanding (among the public) of the impact that announcements like this have on our entire city and on the way we live and our ability to attract jobs and investment,” he said. “I happen to believe that my principal responsibility as the mayor is to attract jobs and investment here and make sure jobs and investments stay here and this announcement is a hugely important thing with regards to that.”

Bell Canada is currently in the process of delivering gigabit-per-second internet service to other cities in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada as part of a $20 billion investment but Cope said that Toronto residents will be the first to have access to the full power of the service.

“It is really about where were we need to go tomorrow and thus sets the city up to be a leader for investment going forward,” Cope said in a subsequent interview with CP24. “This puts us as the broadband city in the world.

As part of its investment in gigabit-per-second internet, Bell has agreed to provide the service for free to eight United Way community centres across Toronto. The centres are located in Rexdale, Scarborough, North York and Danforth Village.

CP24 is a division of Bell Media.

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