A closer look at Envi: Newmarket, Ontario’s municipality-owned ISP

Internet services are offered to small businesses and local community services

The town of Newmarket in Ontario, located in the Greater Toronto Area, launched a municipality-owned internet service provider (ISP) called Envi that started operating in June 2018.

Envi is a standalone subsidiary of Newmarket Hydro Holdings and Tay Hydro. The service provider aims to fill the internet connectivity and service gaps currently being experienced by the business sector in the community.

The network aims to act as a foundation for future initiatives, while also attracting larger businesses to the community. It also hopes to lay the groundwork for future smart city initiatives.

John Taylor, the mayor of Newmarket, said that the region decided to launch its own internet service provider to support the local business community.

“It was also a key pillar of our economic development strategy, and part of that is that we believe our broadband infrastructure can not only support Envi, but also support smart city initiatives,” Taylor told MobileSyrup in an interview.

Where Envi is now

Gianni Creta, the president of Envi, told MobileSyrup that the initiative for Envi took off after the town of Newmarket created an economic development study for the town. The study outlined how Envi was the next step to promote economic growth.

Envi is now fully live and operational and has customers on its network that are primarily in the commercial space, as the focus for the provider right now is on businesses. Creta says that there are currently more than 70 businesses on the network.

Customers currently on the network range from small to large businesses across varied industries. This includes doctor’s offices, restaurants, insurance companies and churches.

Envi has been able to build fibre and provide services to several clients within the city, Creta noted.

Although the focus is currently on commercial partners, Creta says that residents have shown interest as well. He also said that the company has not yet decided if expanding to residential services is a strategy that it will undertake.

It has been able to receive funding from a municipal level to help launch its business plan, which was put in place a year and a half ago.

“In terms of government grants, receiving government funding, from that standpoint, we actually don’t receive any and we don’t qualify for any of that given our location,” Creta explained.

The company provides internet services on a variety of different speed packages to customers. It also provides customized packages according to a customer’s needs. He added that the company has plans that are “just shy of $100 per month and they work their way up from there depending on the type of service you need.”

Creta also noted that customers can pay monthly either on a contract or non-contract terms.

When asked if his company has received pushback from the Big Three (Rogers, Bell, and Telus), Creta says that to date, Envi hasn’t received any resistance.

He also says that Envi is based in an area where he believes the Big Three is more focused on the residential and wireless side of things.

He also added that one differentiator between Envi and the Big Three is that it brings pure fibre to customers and isn’t leveraging legacy infrastructure. In the case of Envi, it owns its own fibre and does not borrow it from the Big Three.

As such, Envi believes that its plans are already competitive based on the service it’s offering and doesn’t feel like it would be affected in a good or bad way following the CRTC’s recent change for wholesale rates for broadband services.

Local support

The New Market Group, a management company that overlooks several companies in different industries, says it has vastly benefited from Envi’s services.

Jeffery McMorran, the director of information services at the New Market Group, detailed how the company was looking it move out from Newmarket.

“We were about to actually relocate further south because speed was an issue. We have two separate offices in Newmarket, and even the line between the two was unusable to keep data moving between the two.”

However, the company was able to stay after receiving services from Envi.

Mayor Taylor said that the goal of Envi was to address problems that companies like New Market Group were facing.

As for the future, Envi says that all of Newmarket will be wired with ultra-fast fibre optic internet providing fast speeds, great customer service, highly competitive pricing and reliability.