The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) completed a 5,500 kilometre fibre optic backbone, the organization said Friday. The group of public and private organizations aims to provide 13 rural communities with high-speed Internet access by early 2014. At a news conference in Gananoque, Ont., webcast online, EORN said the fibre optic backbone will help bring high-speed Internet of 14.4 Kbps and 10 Mbps to 95 per cent of homes and businesses in eastern Ontario. Steven Fletcher, federal minister of state for transport, said the government contributed $55 million to the project. David Burton, chair of the EORN, said the 5,500 kilometres line is a “milestone” for the $170 million project, which began about seven or eight years ago. “The backbone is the foundation by which smaller networks will reach our residents and businesses and open a world of opportunity,” he said. Burton said the fibre backbone network is a result of a partnership with BCE Inc. subsidiary Bell Aliant, which connected 520 kilometres of new cable to its existing fibre lines. “They built on their existing infrastructure to create 160 new access points for the Internet,” he said. Burton said the network provides eastern Ontario residents and businesses with Internet of 10 Mbps today and has the capacity to go to 100 Mbps in the future. The first contracts for the network were awarded to Bell Canada and Xplornet Communications Inc. In December 2011, Xplornet brought high-speed Internet service to the first region in Embrun, Ont. At the time, Infrastructure Canada said Xplornet contributed $750,000 to Embrun’s network while Bell contributed $23 million to fibre backhaul.