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Halton Digital Access Municipal Services Corporation


We’re working to help communities get connected to 5G networks faster! We're exploring the creation of a Municipal Services Corporation to provide telecom providers with easier access to streetlights and hydro poles, supporting quicker broadband enhancements and installation.

The four logos for the City of Burlington and Towns of Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville

The benefits of 5G

What is 5G?

5G is the latest generation of high-speed wireless networks – the newest, fastest way for cell phones, mobile devices and computers to connect with the internet.

Your devices connect to a wireless network through local antennas operated by private telecommunications providers (the telecoms, such as Bell, Rogers and Telus). 5G antennas feature new technology that allow for faster speeds and a higher volume of data transfer, improving the way you use the internet for school, work and play.

5G in Halton

The implementation of 5G technology will be a key economic driver in the next 10 years. It could generate significant economic growth, and we are working to position Halton to benefit from that growth.

Halton continues to advocate and take action to secure reliable access to high-speed internet, including through 5G networks. This ongoing work is necessary to meet the evolving needs of residents and businesses.

Bringing 5G networks to Halton would allow for faster communication between devices to support:

  • increased broadband availability;
  • smart vehicles through a reliable and secure connection to the cloud;
  • super-high-definition media streaming;
  • reliable control of remote machinery; and
  • improved networking for smart devices and technologies.

5G and resident health

Cell phone towers and 5G transmitters emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields similar to energy used by AM/FM radio and television signals. The equipment is usually installed high above ground level, often on towers and utility poles.

According to Health Canada, based on the available scientific evidence, there are no health risks from exposure to the low levels of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted by 5G devices.

Health Canada and Industry Canada safety requirements (external link) protect residents against all established health effects from radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted by telecommunications technology. All 5G transmitters installed in Halton will meet these requirements to help ensure they are safe for everyone.

The importance of high-speed internet

Access to reliable high-speed internet benefits residents and businesses throughout Halton.

  • High-speed internet is critical for businesses to improve their productivity and efficiency to remain competitive.
  • High-speed internet connectivity is essential to attract new business and retain existing business.
  • Transition to smart agriculture and smart farming is critical to remain competitive.
  • These advancements require high-speed internet to leverage new technologies in farming for tracking, monitoring, automating and optimizing operations.
  • Access to high-speed internet and online applications are becoming increasingly important for high-quality education.
  • Modern educational technologies, including applications such as augmented and virtual reality, depend on reliable high-speed internet services at school and at home.
  • Reliable access to online applications is important to improve workforce efficiency and competitiveness.
  • Efficient functioning of health care services depends on reliable high-speed internet to connect with patients virtually for remote consultation, monitoring and some medical procedures.
  • Reliable high-speed internet is critical in a modern community to ensure effective response to emergencies, and public safety incidents, without any delays.
  • Reliable high-speed internet supports public engagement and more efficient delivery of public services.

Helping communities get connected

To build a 5G network, telecoms attach transmitters to vertical streetlight and hydro poles, typically along Regional and Municipal roadways. Halton Region, the Local Municipalities and Hydro Companies (local electrical utilities) own approximately 80,000 of these assets, and many are suitable for 5G attachments.

To help Halton’s communities access 5G networks faster, the Region and Local Municipalities are exploring the creation of a Municipal Services Corporation (MSC). The proposed MSC would help the telecoms implement critical network enhancements by making it easier for them to get installation permits for 5G antennas.

It would provide them with:

  • access to more than 80,000 streetlights and hydro poles in Halton;
  • standardized processes for permitting and licensing;
  • support with developing proposals; and
  • a one-window service for municipal network planning.

In the future, the proposed MSC could also support additional telecommunications service permits beyond 5G, expediting other network enhancements for high-speed internet across the region.

About Halton Digital Access Municipal Services Corporation

The proposed MSC would be jointly owned by:

  • Halton Region;
  • the City of Burlington;
  • the Town of Halton Hills;
  • the Town of Milton; and
  • the Town of Oakville.

The local electrical utilities would participate in the proposed MSC, but would not be part of its ownership.

At a glance:

  1. The Region, City and Towns would enter into agreements with each other to form the MSC.
  2. Telecoms would submit requests to the MSC for permits to access streetlights and hydro poles across Halton.
  3. The MSC would assess and issue permits to the telecoms on behalf of the governments (streetlights) and local electrical utilities (hydro poles) and that own these assets.

As a result, the telecoms would have a single point of contact for their permitting needs instead of working separately with the local governments and local electrical utilities, improving the process and timelines for approval.

  1. The Region, City and Towns and would each own 20 percent of the MSC and have one representative on its board of directors. Each local hydro provider would also have a representative on the board.
  2. The Region, City and Towns would licence space on streetlights to the MSC for cost recovery fees. They would also delegate the permitting process to the MSC.
  3. The local hydro providers would licence space on hydro poles to the MSC for market rate and overhead fees.
  4. The MSC would then provide licensing and permitting services to telecoms for market rate fees.
  5. A portion of the revenue earned on fees for municipal streetlight spaces would be paid to the Region, City and Towns as dividends.

Some of the main administrative considerations for the proposed MSC include:

  • it would be separate from the Region and Local Municipalities;
  • its operations would be managed and overseen by its board of directors;
  • it would outsource most of its services; and
  • it would require a small team of dedicated staff to ensure its success;

Since no party owns more than 17 per cent of the vertical assets, strong governance would be essential to the proposed MSC's success. Some of its key structural principles include:

  • ownership of the assets would not be transferred;
  • asset owners would license rights to the MSC to manage the telecoms’ access to vertical streetlight and hydro poles;
  • 5G equipment and maintenance must not interfere with the primary purpose of the vertical streetlight or hydro pole; 
  • each vertical streetlight or hydro pole owner would be represented; and 
  • fees charged to telecoms would be based on rates that cover the MSC's operating costs and allow full cost recovery for the asset owners.

Update on public consultation

Halton Region and the Local Municipalities collected feedback from the public on the proposed Halton Digital Access Municipal Services Corporation from November 23 to December 14, 2022. Key insights from these responses and comments will help inform future recommendations to the Local and Regional Councils.

Thank you to all those who provided input as we work to help communities get connected faster!

More information

Recent Regional Council documents

Recent Municipal Council documents